Polyol permeability of the human red cell. Interpretation of glucose transport in terms of a pore

Robert J. Bowman, David G Levitt

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The kinetic equations describing transport through a pore that has a binding site and that undergoes a conformational change are identical to those of a carrier model. Therefore, in order to distinguish between the two models it is necessary to test specific predictions based on detailed mechanistic models. A pore model is described in which the substrate (glucose) is able to reach the single binding site only from the outside when the pore is in conformation I and only from the inside when it is conformation II. On the basis of this model it is predicted that solutes which do not have any specific affinity for the binding site should still have a finite permeability via the glucose transport system if they are the same size or smaller than glucose. This permeability should be proportional to the volume of distribution of the solute in the pore and should therefore decrease with increasing molecular size. A geometric pore volume can be estimated from this size dependence. In order to test these predictions, the glucose-dependent permeability of a series of 4-carbon (erythritol), 5-carbon (d-arabitol, l-arabitol and xylitol) and 6-carbon (d-mannitol, d-sorbitol and myo-inositol) polyols was measured. The permeability of all the polyols is decreased by the presence of glucose and the KI of this "inhibitable" component is similar to that of d-sorbose, suggesting that this component is associated with the glucose transport system. Since these observations could be explained entirely in terms of a specific affinity for a carrier binding site, they do not exclude a carrier mechanism. However, as predicted for the pore model, this "inhibitable" permeability decreased with increasing molecular size and the calculated geometric pore volume was of a size that would be expected for a cell membrane pore.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-83
Number of pages16
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 1977

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by a grant from the American National Red Cross Blood Program.


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