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Chemo-electrical energy conversion of Adenosine triphosphate in a Biological Ion Transporter

  • Vishnu Baba Sundaresan (a1), Stephen Andrew Sarles (a2), Brian J Goode (a3) and Donald J Leo (a4)


Ion transport across cell membranes happens through protein channels and pumps expending concentration gradients, electrical gradients and energy from chemical reactions. Ion exchange in cell membranes is responsible for nutrient transport from production sites to where they are broken down to release energy. Sucrose transport is vital for growth in higher plants and recent research has led to the discovery of a class of sugar carriers called SUT4. The SUT4 transporter is a low affinity, high capacity proton-sucrose transporter that participates in long distance sucrose transport in higher plants. We demonstrated the possibility to use purified SUT4 transporter proteins — with the genetic code from Arabidopsis thaliana expressed on yeast cells — for fluid transport driven by pH gradient and from exergonic ATP hydrolysis reaction in the presence of ATP-ase enzyme. The SUT4 proteins were reconstituted on a planar bilayer lipid membrane formed from 1-Palmitoyl-2-Oleoyl-sn-Glycero-3-[Phospho-L-Serine] (Sodium Salt) (POPS), 1-Palmitoyl-2-Oleoyl-sn-Glycero- 3-Phosphoethanolamine (POPE) phospholipids on a porous substrate. This article builds upon our previous work to harness energy from the ATP-ase reaction using SUT4 to produce a proton current through SUT4 and demonstrates the technical feasibility to generate electrical current in an external circuit. The results from our characterization experiments on a single cell demonstrate that the power source behaves like a constant current power source with an internal resistance of 10-22 kΩ and produces a peak power of 150 nW.



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1. Truernit, E., 2001. “Plant physiology: The Importance of Sucrose Transporters,” Current Biology 11, pp. R169– R171.
2. Burkle, L., Hibberd, J. M., Quick, W. P., Kühn, C., Hirner, B., and Frommer, W.B., 1998. “The H+-Sucrose cotransporter AtSUT1 is Essential for Sugar Export from Tobacco Leaves”. Plant Physiology, 118(1), pp. 5968.
3. Weise, A., Barker, L., Kuhn, C., Lalonde, S., Buschmann, H., Frommer, W. B., and Ward, J.M., 2000. “A New Sub-family of Sucrose Transporters, SUT4, with Low Affinity/High Capacity Localized in Enucleate Sieve Elements of Plants”. Plant Cell, 12, August, pp. 13451355.
4. Sundaresan, V. B., Leo, D.J., 2006. “Actuation using Protein Transporters driven by Proton Gradients”, Proceedings of IMECE-2006, ASME, Chicago, IL.
5. Sundaresan, V. B., and Leo, D.J., 2006. “Protein-based Microhydraulic Transport for Controllable Actuation”. In Proceedings of SPIE-2006, SPIE Press.
6. Steinem, C., Janshoff, A., Ulrich, W.P., Sieber, M., and Galla, H.J.: Impedance Analysis of Supported Lipid Bilayer Membranes: A Scrutiny of Different Preparation Techniques. Molecular and Cellular Biology Letters 1279: p.169180 (March 1996)


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Chemo-electrical energy conversion of Adenosine triphosphate in a Biological Ion Transporter

  • Vishnu Baba Sundaresan (a1), Stephen Andrew Sarles (a2), Brian J Goode (a3) and Donald J Leo (a4)


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