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Evolution of the Na-P(i) cotransport systems.

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Department of Physiological Sciences, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, United Kingdom.


Membrane transport systems for P(i) transport are key elements in maintaining homeostasis of P(i) in organisms as diverse as bacteria and human. Two Na-P(i) cotransporter families with well-described functional properties in vertebrates, namely NaPi-II and NaPi-III, show conserved structural features with prokaryotic origin. A clear vertical relationship can be established among the mammalian protein family NaPi-III, a homologous system in C. elegans, the yeast system Pho89, and the bacterial P(i) transporter Pit. An alternative lineage connects the mammalian NaPi-II-related transporters with homologous proteins from Caenorhabditis elegans and Vibrio cholerae. The present review focuses on the molecular evolution of the NaPi-II protein family. Preliminary results indicate that the NaPi-II homologue cloned from V. cholerae is indeed a functional P(i) transporter when expressed in Xenopus oocytes. The closely related NaPi-II isoforms NaPi-IIa and NaPi-IIb are responsible for regulated epithelial Na-dependent P(i) transport in all vertebrates. Most species express two different NaPi-II proteins with the exception of the flounder and Xenopus laevis, which rely on only a single isoform. Using an RT-PCR-based approach with degenerate primers, we were able to identify NaPi-II-related mRNAs in a variety of vertebrates from different families. We hypothesize that the original NaPi-IIb-related gene was duplicated early in vertebrate development. The appearance of NaPi-IIa correlates with the development of the mammalian nephron.

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