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Ioan Kosztin and Klaus Schulten. Fluctuation-driven molecular transport through an asymmetric membrane channel. Physical Review Letters, 93:238102, 2004. (4 pages).

KOSZ2004 Channel proteins, that selectively conduct molecules across cell membranes, often exhibit an asymmetric structure. By means of a stochastic model, we argue that channel asymmetry in the presence of non-equilibrium fluctuations, fueled by the cell's metabolism and observed recently, can dramatically influence the transport through such channels by a ratchet-like mechanism. For an aquaglyceroporin that conducts water and glycerol we show that a previously determined asymmetric glycerol potential leads to enhanced inward transport of glycerol, but for unfavorably high glycerol concentrations also to enhanced outward transport that protects a cell against poisoning.

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