The binding and translocation steps in transport as related to substrate structure. A study of the choline carrier of erythrocytes

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1979 Nov 2;557(2):469-85. doi: 10.1016/0005-2736(79)90344-4.


The relationships between structure, affinity and transport activity in the choline transport system of erythrocytes have been investigated in order to (i) explore the nature of the carrier site and its surroundings, and (ii) determine the dependence of the carrier reorientation process on binding energies and steric restraints due to the substrate molecule. Affinity constants and maximum transport rates for a series of trialkyl derivatives of ethanolamine were obtained by a method that involves measuring the trans effect of unlabeled analogs upon the movement of radioactive choline. The main conclusions are as follows: (1) An analysis of transport kinetics shows that the affinity constants determined experimentally differ from the actual dissociation constants in a predictable way. The better the substrate, the higher the apparent affinity relative to the true value, whereas the affinity of non-transported inhibitiors is underestimated by a constant factor. (2) The carrier-choline complex undergoes far more rapid reorientation (translocation) than the free carrier. (3) The carrier imposes a strict upper limit upon the size of a substrate molecule that can participate in the carrier reorientation process; this limit corresponds to the choline structure. A smaller substrate such as tetramethylammonium, despite relatively weak binding forces , is unhindered in its translocation, suggesting that a carrier conformational change, dependent upon substrate binding energy, is not required for transport. (4) Small increases in the size of the quaternary ammonium head, as in triethylcholine, sharply lower affinity, consistent with a high degree of specificity for the trimethylammonium group. (5) Lengthening the alkyl substituent in derivatives of dimethyl- and diethylaminoethanol causes a regular increase in affinity, suggestive of unspecific hydrophobic bonding in a region very near the substrate site.

MeSH terms

  • Binding, Competitive
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Choline / analogs & derivatives
  • Choline / blood*
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / drug effects
  • Erythrocyte Membrane / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Iodides / pharmacology
  • Kinetics
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Molecular
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Blood Glucose
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Iodides
  • Choline