Thermodynamics, the structure of integral membrane proteins, and transport

J Supramol Struct. 1977;6(3):313-23. doi: 10.1002/jss.400060304.


Membranes are structures whose lipid and protein components are at, or close to, equilibrium in the plane of the membrane, but are not at equilibrium across the membrane. The thermodynamic tendency of ionic and highly polar molecules to be in contact with water rather than with nonpolar media (hydrophilic interactions) is important in determining these equilibrium and nonequilibrium states. In this paper, we speculate about the structures and orientations of integral proteins in a membrane, and about how the equilibrium and nonequilibrium features of such structures and orientations might be influenced by the special mechanisms of biosynthesis, processing, and membrane insertion of these proteins. The relevance of these speculations to the mechanisms of the translocation event in membrane transport is discussed, and specific protein models of transport that have been proposed are analyzed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport, Active*
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Membrane Proteins* / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Thermodynamics


  • Membrane Proteins