PerspectiveBiochemistry

Watch Water Flow

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Science  14 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6138, pp. 1294-1295
DOI: 10.1126/science.1239270

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Summary

Cells have numerous channels and transporters that facilitate movement of specific molecules and ions across biological membranes. However, it is unclear how these proteins facilitate the rapid passage of specific ions while impeding other, often very similar, substrates. The mechanism by which potassium ions (K+) are transported through K+ channels was revealed more than a decade ago (14). Computer simulations mirrored the x-ray data, demonstrating the complementary nature of the two techniques. On page 1346 of this issue, Kosinska Eriksson et al. (5) report the crystal structure of yeast aquaporin1 at subangstrom resolution in conjunction with molecular dynamics simulations, revealing that, much like K+ in K+ channels, water flows through the aquaporin channel in a pairwise manner.