J. Membrane Biol. 158, 1–16 (1997) The Journal of Membrane Biology © Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1997 Topical Review K. Kirk Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Science, Australian National University, Canberra A.C.T. 0200, Australia Received: 9 December 1996/Revised: 25 March 1997 Introduction companied by a net efflux of water and this process thereby serves as part of the cell’s volume-regulatory response. Most cells have in their cytosols substantial (i.e., ùmil- From studies of swelling-activated organic osmolyte limolar) concentrations of low molecular weight organic transport in cells from a diverse range of organisms it has solutes which, together, make a significant contribution emerged that the transport pathways involved share a to the total intracellular osmolality and which are known number of functional characteristics. There is increasing collectively as ‘organic osmolytes’. The solutes fulfill- evidence that these pathways are, in many cases and ing this role fall, in most cases, into one of three different perhaps in general, channels that have a significant per- classes: amino acids (e.g., the a-amino acids alanine and meability to a wide variety of both charged and un- proline, and the b-amino acids taurine and b-alanine), charged solutes. The purpose of this review
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 1, 1997
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