<chemistry> A molecule that allows ions to cross lipid bilayers. There are two classes: carriers and channels. Carriers, like valinomycin, form cage like structures around specific ions, diffusing freely through the hydrophobic regions of the bilayer. Channels, like gramicidin, form continuous aqueous pores through the bilayer, allowing ions to diffuse through.

See: ion channels.

This entry appears with permission from the Dictionary of Cell and Molecular Biology

(11 Mar 2008)

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