Relations between structure and function of the mitochondrial ADP/ATP carrier
Import and export of metabolites through mitochondrial membranes are vital processes that are highly controlled and regulated at the level of the inner membrane. Proteins of the mitochondrial carrier family ( MCF ) are embedded in this membrane, and each member of the family achieves the selective transport of a specific metabolite. Among these, the ADP/ATP carrier transports ADP into the mitochondrial matrix and exports ATP toward the cytosol after its synthesis. Because of its natural abundance, the ADP/ATP carrier is the best characterized within MCF, and a high-resolution structure of one conformation is known. The overall structure is basket shaped and formed by six transmembrane helices that are not only tilted with respect to the membrane, but three of them are also kinked at the level of prolines. The functional mechanisms, nucleotide recognition, and conformational changes for the transport, suggested from the structure, are discussed along with the large body of biochemical and functional results.