Reversible mechanosensitive ion pumping as a part of mechanoelectrical transduction

V. S. Markin, T. Y. Tsong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


To explain the ability of some mechanosensitive cells to reverse the process of mechanotransduction and to generate mechanical oscillations and emit sound, a piezo-conformational coupling model (PCC model) is proposed. The model includes a transport protein which changes either its volume (PV-coupling) or its area in the membrane (gamma A-coupling) when undergoing conformational transitions. Such a protein can interact with an oscillating pressure to pump ions and create a transmembrane gradient if the affinities of the protein for ions are different at the two sides of membrane. The frequency and concentration windows for mechanical energy transduction were determined. Under optimal conditions, the efficiency of energy transduction can approach the theoretical maximum of 100%. If the concentration gradient exceeds the static head value (quasi-equilibrium which can be built up and maintained by this transport system), the energy transduction reverses and the transporter becomes a generator of mechanical oscillations at the expense of a concentration gradient. Estimation of thermodynamic parameters of the pump shows that the PV-coupling model would require large pressure oscillations to work while the gamma A-coupling model could work in physiological conditions. The gamma A-coupling mechanism may be used by cells for two purposes. In the reverse mode, it can be a force generator for various applications. In the direct mode, it may serve bioenergetic purposes by harvesting the energy of mechanical oscillations and storing it in the form of a concentration gradient.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1317-1324
Number of pages8
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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