The ABC (ATP-binding cassette) transporter family in higher plants is highly expanded compared with those of mammalians. Moreover, some members of the plant ABC subfamily B (ABCB) display very high substrate specificity compared with their mammalian counterparts that are often associated with multi-drug resistance phenomena. In this review, we highlight prominent functions of plant and mammalian ABC transporters and summarize our knowledge on their post-transcriptional regulation with a focus on protein phosphorylation. A deeper comparison of regulatory events of human cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) and ABCB1 from the model plant Arabidopsis reveals a surprisingly high degree of similarity. Both physically interact with orthologues of the FK506-binding proteins that chaperon both transporters to the plasma membrane in an action that seems to involve heat shock protein (Hsp)90. Further, both transporters are phosphorylated at regulatory domains that connect both nt-binding folds. Taken together, it appears that ABC transporters exhibit an evolutionary conserved but complex regulation by protein phosphorylation, which apparently is, at least in some cases, tightly connected with protein–protein interactions (PPI).

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