PLoS ONE (Jan 2013)

Evolutionary history of the GABA transporter (GAT) group revealed by marine invertebrate GAT-1.

  • Azusa Kinjo,
  • Tomoko Koito,
  • So Kawaguchi,
  • Koji Inoue

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 12
p. e82410


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The GABA transporter (GAT) group is one of the major subgroups in the solute career 6 (SLC6) family of transmembrane proteins. The GAT group, which has been well studied in mammals, has 6 known members, i.e., a taurine transporter (TAUT), four GABA transporters (GAT-1, -2, -3, - 4), and a creatine transporter (CT1), which have important roles in maintaining physiological homeostasis. However, the GAT group has not been extensively investigated in invertebrates; only TAUT has been reported in marine invertebrates such as bivalves and krills, and GAT-1 has been reported in several insect species and nematodes. Thus, it is unknown how transporters in the GAT group arose during the course of animal evolution. In this study, we cloned GAT-1 cDNAs from the deep-sea mussel, Bathymodiolus septemdierum, and the Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, whose TAUT cDNA has already been cloned. To understand the evolutionary history of the GAT group, we conducted phylogenetic and synteny analyses on the GAT group transporters of vertebrates and invertebrates. Our findings suggest that transporters of the GAT group evolved through the following processes. First, GAT-1 and CT1 arose by tandem duplication of an ancestral transporter gene before the divergence of Deuterostomia and Protostomia; next, the TAUT gene arose and GAT-3 was formed by the tandem duplication of the TAUT gene; and finally, GAT-2 and GAT-4 evolved from a GAT-3 gene by chromosomal duplication in the ancestral vertebrates. Based on synteny and phylogenetic evidence, the present naming of the GAT group members does not accurately reflect the evolutionary relationships.