In this work we propose a unifying model of mediated membrane transport, based upon the idea that the integral membrane proteins involved in these processes operate via complex channel mechanisms. In the first part, we briefly review literature about the structural aspects of membrane transporters. We conclude that there is a substantial amount of evidence suggesting that most membrane proteins performing transport are embodied with channel-like structures that may constitute the translocation paths. This includes cases where the phenomenological transport kinetics do not correspond to the classical channel behavior. In the second part of this article we introduce the general channel model of mediated transport and employ it to derive specific examples, like simple one- or two-ligand channels, water-ligand channels, simple carriers, co- and counter-transport systems and more complex water-ligand carriers. We show that, for the most part, these particular cases can be obtained by the application of the techniques of diagram reduction to the full model. The necessary conditions for diagram reduction reflect physical properties of the protein and its surroundings.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 1, 2005
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