Mitochondrial carriers (MC) are a large family (MCF) of inner membrane transporters displaying diverse, yet often redundant, substrate specificities, as well as differing spatio-temporal patterns of expression; there are even increasing examples of non-mitochondrial subcellular localization. The number of these six trans-membrane domain proteins in sequenced plant genomes ranges from 39 to 141, rendering the size of plant families larger than that found in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
and comparable with Homo sapiens
. Indeed, comparison of plant MCs with those from these better characterized species has been highly informative. Here, we review the most recent comprehensive studies of plant MCFs, incorporating the torrent of genomic data emanating from next-generation sequencing techniques. As such we present a more current prediction of the substrate specificities of these carriers as well as review the continuing quest to biochemically characterize this feature of the carriers. Taken together, these data provide an important resource to guide direct genetic studies aimed at addressing the relevance of these vital carrier proteins.
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