Domain-based identification and analysis of glutamate receptor ion channels and their relatives in prokaryotes

Mao Feng Ger, Gloria Rendon, Jeffrey L. Tilson, Eric Jakobsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Voltage-gated and ligand-gated ion channels are used in eukaryotic organisms for the purpose of electrochemical signaling. There are prokaryotic homologues to major eukaryotic channels of these sorts, including voltage-gated sodium, potassium, and calcium channels, Ach-receptor and glutamate-receptor channels. The prokaryotic homologues have been less well characterized functionally than their eukaryotic counterparts. In this study we identify likely prokaryotic functional counterparts of eukaryotic glutamate receptor channels by comprehensive analysis of the prokaryotic sequences in the context of known functional domains present in the eukaryotic members of this family. In particular, we searched the nonredundant protein database for all proteins containing the following motif: the two sections of the extracellular glutamate binding domain flanking two transmembrane helices. We discovered 100 prokaryotic sequences containing this motif, with a wide variety of functional annotations. Two groups within this family have the same topology as eukaryotic glutamate receptor channels. Group 1 has a potassium-like selectivity filter. Group 2 is most closely related to eukaryotic glutamate receptor channels. We present analysis of the functional domain architecture for the group of 100, a putative phylogenetic tree, comparison of the protein phylogeny with the corresponding species phylogeny, consideration of the distribution of these proteins among classes of prokaryotes, and orthologous relationships between prokaryotic and human glutamate receptor channels. We introduce a construct called the Evolutionary Domain Network, which represents a putative pathway of domain rearrangements underlying the domain composition of present channels. We believe that scientists interested in ion channels in general, and ligand-gated ion channels in particular, will be interested in this work. The work should also be of interest to bioinformatics researchers who are interested in the use of functional domain-based analysis in evolutionary and functional discovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12827
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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