We herein report recent advances in our understanding of transport protein evolution. Numerous families of complex transmembrane transport proteins are believed to have arisen from short channel-forming amphipathic or hydrophobic peptides by various types of intragenic duplication events. Distinct pathways distinguish families, demonstrating independent origins for some, and allowing assignment of others to superfamilies. Some families have diversified in topology, whereas others have remained uniform. An example of ‘retroevolution’ was discovered where a more complex carrier gave rise to a structurally and functionally simpler channel. The results described in this review article expand our understanding of protein evolution.
©2011 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York