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Trends Biochem Sci. 2004 Aug;29(8):445-51.

Energy transduction in transmembrane ion pumps.

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Institute for Systems Biology, 1441 North 34th Street, Seattle, WA 98103, USA.


Recent crystallographic structures of three different ion pumps provide a first view of the mechanisms by which these molecular machines transfer ions across cell membranes against an electrochemical gradient. Each of the structures reinforces the concept that several buried counter ions have central roles in substrate recruitment, substrate binding and energy transduction during ion pumping. The spatial organization of the counter ions suggests that, initially, one or more counter ions lowers the Born energy cost of binding a substrate ion in the low-dielectric interior of the membrane. Subsequently, a ligand-induced conformational change seems to close a charged access gate to prevent backflow from a subsequent, low-affinity state of the pump. A final role of the buried counter ions might be to couple the input of external energy to a small charge separation between the substrate ion and the buried counter ions, thereby decreasing the binding affinity for the substrate ion in preparation for its release on the high-energy side of the membrane.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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