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Phylogenetic diversity of NTT nucleotide transport proteins in free-living and parasitic bacteria and Eukaryotes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Peter Major, Emeritus Professor T. Martin Embley FMedSci FRSORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© The Author(s) 2017. Plasma membrane-located nucleotide transport proteins (NTTs) underpin the lifestyle of important obligate intracellular bacterial and eukaryotic pathogens by importing energy and nucleotides from infected host cells that the pathogens can no longer make for themselves. As such their presence is often seen as a hallmark of an intracellular lifestyle associated with reductive genome evolution and loss of primary biosynthetic pathways. Here, we investigate the phylogenetic distribution of NTT sequences across the domains of cellular life. Our analysis reveals an unexpectedly broad distribution of NTT genes in both host-associated and free-living prokaryotes and eukaryotes. We also identify cases of within-bacteria and bacteria-to-eukaryote horizontal NTT transfer, including into the base of the oomycetes, a major clade of parasitic eukaryotes. In addition to identifying sequences that retain the canonical NTT structure, we detected NTT gene fusions with HEAT-repeat and cyclic nucleotide binding domains in Cyanobacteria, pathogenic Chlamydiae and Oomycetes. Our results suggest that NTTs are versatile functional modules with a much wider distribution and a broader range of potential roles than has previously been appreciated.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Major P, Embley TM, Williams TA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Genome Biology and Evolution

Year: 2017

Volume: 9

Issue: 2

Pages: 480-487

Print publication date: 01/02/2017

Online publication date: 02/02/2017

Acceptance date: 03/01/2017

Date deposited: 14/06/2017

ISSN (print): 1759-6653

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/gbe/evx015


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