The ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter genes represent the largest family of transporters and these genes are abundant in the genome of all vertebrates. Through analysis of the genome sequence databases we have characterized the full complement of ABC genes from several mammals and other vertebrates. Multiple gene duplication and deletion events were identified in ABC genes in different lineages indicating that the process of gene evolution is still ongoing. Gene duplication resulting in either gene birth or gene death plays a major role in the evolution of the vertebrate ABC genes. The understanding of this mechanism is important in the context of human health because these ABC genes are associated with human disease, involving nearly all organ systems of the body. In addition, ABC genes play an important role in the development of drug resistance in cancer cells. Future genetic, functional, and evolutionary studies of ABC transporters will provide important insight into human and animal biology.
©2011 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York