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J Membr Biol. 1997 Jun 1;157(3):271-9.

Regulation of metabolite flux through voltage-gating of VDAC channels.

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  • 1Laboratories of Cell Biology, Department of Zoology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


The mitochondrial outer membrane channel, VDAC, is thought to serve as the major permeability pathway for metabolite flux between the cytoplasm and mitochondria. The permeability of VDAC to citrate, succinate, and phosphate was studied in channels reconstituted into planar phospholipid membranes. All ions showed large changes in permeability depending on whether the channel was in the open or in the low conductance, "closed" state, with the closed state always more cation selective. This was especially true for the divalent and trivalent anions. Additionally, the anion flux when the voltage was zero was shown to decrease to 5-11% of the open state flux depending on the anion studied. These results give the first rigorous examination of the ability of metabolites to permeate through VDAC channels and indicate that these channels can control the flux of these ions through the outer membrane. This lends more evidence to the growing body of experiments that suggest that the outer mitochondrial membrane has a much more important role in controlling mitochondrial activity than has been thought historically.

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