About this Research Topic
Membranes are one of the most critical elements of living cells contributing to energy production and metabolism. On one hand, membranes play the fundamental function of providing the working environment for the respiratory chain and ATP synthase enzymes, driving the synthesis of ATP. On the other, the electrochemical gradient generated by the hydrolysis of ATP across membranes is used by secondary active transporters to drive the flux of metabolites and ions. In eukaryotic cells, beside the traffic at the plasma membrane, bioenergetic processes require the exchange of metabolites between different compartments with a special emphasis on mitochondria. Therefore, membranes significantly contribute to the energy metabolism of cells allowing for the flux of nutrients, ions, catabolites and, last but not least, xenobiotics and drugs. Considering the virtual impermeability of cell membranes, several hundreds of transporters (ABCs and SLCs), pumps and channels are required to mediate the flux of these different classes of compounds.
Transporters provide cells with nutrients able to release free energy upon oxidative processes, as well as vitamins and vitamin-like compounds, essential for the cell metabolism. Channels and pumps ensure a flux of ions that serve as cofactors for many enzymes and contribute to the electrical properties of membranes. Therefore, it is not a surprise that the number of genes coding for proteins related to transport function has substantially increased from prokaryotes to eukaryotes and from unicellular to multicellular organisms, in accordance with the need to mediate the flux from the external to the internal environment, and to distribute metabolites to the various tissues of an organism.
The crucial role of these proteins is definitively revealed by their relevance in human diseases. Many pathologies, with a wide range of severity, are characterized by defects in membrane transporters, pumps and channels. Moreover, these proteins have relevance in pharmacology, in view of the fact that they can interact with several drugs as primary and off-site targets, (i.e. as unexpected events underlying the side effects of drugs) and can be involved in drug absorption and disposition.
The aim of this Research Topic is to cover recent, novel, and promising research achievements in the field of membrane transport phenomena of nutrients, metabolites and ions related to cell bioenergetics.
Areas to be covered in this Research Topic may include, but are not limited to, the role of membrane transporters, channels and pumps in bioenergetics with specific reference to:
• Evolutionary aspects
• Omic approaches for studying known and unknown members
• Deorphanization of unknown members
• Structure and structure/function relationships
• Expression and function regulation
• Involvement in human pathologies characterized by derangements of cell bioenergetics
• Role as targets of novel and/or repurposed drugs
• Role in drug availability
A full list of the article types accepted in this collection can be found here.
Keywords: Bioenergetics, Membrane Transport, Nutrients, Metabolites, Diseases
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