Fluctuation-Driven Molecular Transport Through an Asymmetric Membrane Channel
Channel proteins that selectively conduct molecules across cell membranes often exhibit an asymmetric structure. By means of a stochastic model, we argue that channel asymmetry in the presence of nonequilibrium fluctuations, fueled by the cell's metabolism as observed recently, can dramatically influence the transport through such channels by a ratchetlike mechanism. For an aquaglyceroporin that conducts water and glycerol, we show that a previously determined asymmetric glycerol potential leads to enhanced inward transport of glycerol, but for unfavorably high glycerol concentrations also to enhanced outward transport that protects a cell against poisoning.
Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 238102 (2004)