Structure and mechanism of ATP-dependent phospholipid transporters. – University of Copenhagen

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21 May 2015

Structure and mechanism of ATP-dependent phospholipid transporters.

López-Marqués RL, Poulsen LR, Bailly A, Geisler M, Pomorski TG, Palmgren MG. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1850(3):461-475. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2014.04.008 (2015).


ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters and P4-ATPases are two large and seemingly unrelated families of primary active pumps involved in moving phospholipids from one leaflet of a biological membrane to the other.

This review aims to identify common mechanistic features in the way phospholipid flipping is carried out by two evolutionarily unrelated families of transporters.

Both protein families hydrolyze ATP, although they employ different mechanisms to use it, and have a comparable size with twelve transmembrane segments in the functional unit. Further, despite differences in overall architecture, both appear to operate by an alternating access mechanism and during transport they might allow access of phospholipids to the internal part of the transmembrane domain. The latter feature is obvious for ABC transporters, but phospholipids and other hydrophobic molecules have also been found embedded in P-type ATPase crystal structures. Taken together, in two diverse groups of pumps, nature appears to have evolved quite similar ways of flipping phospholipids.

Our understanding of the structural basis for phospholipid flipping is still limited but it seems plausible that a general mechanism for phospholipid flipping exists in nature. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Structural biochemistry and biophysics of membrane proteins.