DOI: 10.1042/bsr20211209 ISSN: 0144-8463

Biological ammonium transporters from the Amt/Mep/Rh superfamily: mechanism, energetics, and technical limitations

Gordon Williamson, Adriana Bizior, Thomas Harris, Leighton Pritchard, Paul Alan Hoskisson, Arnaud Javelle
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics

The exchange of ammonium across cellular membranes is a fundamental process in all domains of life and is facilitated by the ubiquitous Amt/Mep/Rh transporter superfamily. Remarkably, despite a high structural conservation in all domains of life, these proteins have gained various biological functions during evolution. It is tempting to hypothesise that the physiological functions gained by these proteins may be explained at least in part by differences in the energetics of their translocation mechanisms. Therefore, in this review, we will explore our current knowledge of energetics of the Amt/Mep/Rh family, discuss variations in observations between different organisms, and highlight some technical drawbacks which have hampered effects at mechanistic characterisation. Through the review we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of current understanding of the mechanism of transport of this unique and extraordinary Amt/Mep/Rh superfamily of ammonium transporters.

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