Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS

, Volume 61, Issue 6, pp 682-699

First online:

The ABC transporter structure and mechanism: perspectives on recent research

  • P. M. JonesAffiliated withDepartment of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Technology Sydney
  • , A. M. GeorgeAffiliated withDepartment of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Technology Sydney Email author 

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ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters are multidomain integral membrane proteins that utilise the energy of ATP hydrolysis to translocate solutes across cellular membranes in all phyla. ABC transporters form one of the largest of all protein families and are central to many important biomedical phenomena, including resistance of cancers and pathogenic microbes to drugs. Elucidation of the structure and mechanism of ABC transporters is essential to the rational design of agents to control their function. While a wealth of high-resolution structures of ABC proteins have been produced in recent years, many fundamental questions regarding the protein’s mechanism remain unanswered. In this review, we examine the recent structural data concerning ABC transporters and related proteins in the light of other experimental and theoretical data, and discuss these data in relation to current ideas concerning the transporters’ molecular mechanism.

ABC transporter ABC-ATPase membrane transport nucleotide-binding domain ATP hydrolysis mechanism P-glycoprotein