ABC lipid transporters: extruders, flippases, or flopless activators?

FEBS Lett. 2006 Feb 13;580(4):1171-7. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2005.12.019. Epub 2005 Dec 19.


Many mammalian ABC transporters move membrane lipids to acceptor lipid assemblies in the extracellular aqueous milieu. Because the desorption from the membrane costs more energy than provided by two ATPs, the transporter probably only translocates the lipid to a partially hydrophilic site on its extracellular face. From this high-energy site, the lipid may efficiently move to the acceptor, which ideally is bound to the transporter, or, in the absence of an acceptor, fall back into the membrane. If the lipid originated from the cytosolic membrane surface, this represents lipid flop and is probably a side activity of the transporters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Lipid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / metabolism


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters