Multidrug and toxic compound extrusion (MATE) proteins, comprising the most recently designated family of multidrug transporter proteins, are widely distributed in all kingdoms of living organisms, although their function is far from understood. The bacterial MATE-type transporters that have been characterized function as exporters of cationic drugs, such as norfloxacin and ethidium, through H+ or Na+ exchange. Plant MATE-type transporters are involved in the detoxification of secondary metabolites, including alkaloids. Mammalian MATE-type transporters are responsible for the final step in the excretion of metabolic waste and xenobiotic organic cations in the kidney and liver through electroneutral exchange of H+. Thus, we propose that members of the MATE family are organic cation exporters that excrete metabolic or xenobiotic organic cations from the body.
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