Author(s): Mulkidjanian AY
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Abstract The concept of the membrane proton well was suggested by Peter Mitchell to account for the energetic equivalence of the chemical (DeltapH) and electrical (Deltapsi) components of the proton-motive force. The proton well was defined as a proton-conducting crevice passing down into the membrane dielectric and able to accumulate protons in response to the generation either of Deltapsi or of DeltapH. In this review, the concept of proton well is contrasted to the desolvation penalty of > 500 meV for transferring protons into the membrane core. The magnitude of the desolvation penalty argues against deep proton wells in the energy-transducing enzymes. The shallow DeltapH- and Deltapsi-sensitive proton traps, mechanistically linked to the functional groups in the membrane interior, seem more realistic. In such constructs, the draw of a trapped proton into the membrane core can happen at the expense of some exergonic reaction, e.g., release of another proton from the membrane into the aqueous phase. It is argued that the proton transfer in the ATP synthase and the cytochrome bc complex could proceed in this way.
This article was published in Biochim Biophys Acta
and referenced in Research & Reviews: Journal of Veterinary Sciences