Backlash

by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen

Every cell is a world of its own. Within its boundaries, there are entities of all shapes and sizes each busy accomplishing specific activities - transcribing genes, synthesizing proteins, modifying proteins, ferrying molecules from one part of the cell to another, building molecular motorways, erecting scaffoldings, repairing scaffoldings, collecting waste, shifting waste, digesting waste... To keep this state of affairs going, there needs to be a continuous exchange between the cell and the outside world as various goods are shuttled across its membrane in both directions. There are checkpoints nevertheless, which is why cell membranes are riddled with canals or pumps that are more or less selective: not everything can come in or go out, while some things must come in and others are better out. It is a case of survival. Toxic compounds that find their way into microorganisms, for instance, are usually funnelled out by what are known as efflux pumps. These pumps pose one problem for humans however, and that is drug resistance. One such pump is the Trichophyton rubrum ABC multidrug transporter MDR3.

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Protein Spotlight (ISSN 1424-4721) is a monthly review written by the Swiss-Prot team of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Spotlight articles describe a specific protein or family of proteins on an informal tone. Follow us: Subscribe · Twitter · Facebook

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