Surface-mediated proton-transfer reactions in membrane-bound proteins

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Apr 12;1655(1-3):102-15. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2003.10.018.


As outlined by Peter Mitchell in the chemiosmotic theory, an intermediate in energy conversion in biological systems is a proton electrochemical potential difference ("proton gradient") across a membrane, generated by membrane-bound protein complexes. These protein complexes accommodate proton-transfer pathways through which protons are conducted. In this review, we focus specifically on the role of the protein-membrane surface and the surface-bulk water interface in the dynamics of proton delivery to these proton-transfer pathways. The general mechanisms are illustrated by experimental results from studies of bacterial photosynthetic reaction centres (RCs) and cytochrome c oxidase (CcO).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electron Transport
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / chemistry
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / genetics
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins / chemistry
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins / genetics
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins / metabolism
  • Proton-Motive Force
  • Rhodobacter sphaeroides / enzymology
  • Rhodobacter sphaeroides / genetics
  • Water / metabolism


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins
  • Water
  • Electron Transport Complex IV