Secondary Active Transporters

Subcell Biochem. 2019;92:275-299. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-18768-2_9.


Transport of solutes across biological membranes is essential for cellular life. This process is mediated by membrane transport proteins which move nutrients, waste products, certain drugs and ions into and out of cells. Secondary active transporters couple the transport of substrates against their concentration gradients with the transport of other solutes down their concentration gradients. The alternating access model of membrane transporters and the coupling mechanism of secondary active transporters are introduced in this book chapter. Structural studies have identified typical protein folds for transporters that we exemplify by the major facilitator superfamily (MFS) and LeuT folds. Finally, substrate binding and substrate translocation of the transporters LacY of the MFS and AdiC of the amino acid-polyamine-organocation (APC) superfamily are described.

Keywords: Alternating access model; Amino acid-polyamine-organocation superfamily; Major facilitator superfamily; Membrane transporter; Secondary active transporter; Transport mechanism; Transporter fold.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport Systems / chemistry
  • Amino Acid Transport Systems / metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*


  • Amino Acid Transport Systems
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • lactose permease