Structural Base of Halide Transport Through Biological Membranes


Lars-Oliver Essen Department of Chemistry, Philipps University

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The transport of chloride and other halides through lipid membranes is crucial for many cellular processes, but the molecular basis of this important phenomenon is still poorly understood. One reason for this is the lack of small model compounds such as valinomycin or gramicidin A which have played a major role in elucidating the specificity of cation transporters since decades. Of the estimated 19 protein families which are involved in halide transport, structural information exists for three families at high resolution. This review focuses on the recent progress in the structural biology of chloride channels and pumps and what kind of lessons can be learned now for the chemical engineering of synthetic chloride transporters. The design of such chloride-conducting compounds may have profound implications in the treatment of several hereditary diseases such as cystic fibrosis or hypothyroidism.