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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2008 Dec;18(6):726-33. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2008 Nov 5.

Structural insights into ABC transporter mechanism.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, 915 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters utilize the energy from ATP hydrolysis to transport substances across the membrane. In recent years, crystal structures of several ABC transporters have become available. These structures show that both importers and exporters oscillate between two conformations: an inward-facing conformation with the substrate translocation pathway open to the cytoplasm and an outward-facing conformation with the translocation pathway facing the opposite side of the membrane. In this review, conformational differences found in the structures of homologous ABC transporters are analyzed to understand how alternating-access is achieved. It appears that rigid-body rotations of the transmembrane subunits, coinciding with the opening and closing of the nucleotide-binding subunits, couples ATP hydrolysis to substrate translocation.

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