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Bacteriorhodopsin, Molecular Biology of

Molecular Biology of Specific Organisms

  1. Janos K. Lanyi

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/3527600906.mcb.200200011

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

How to Cite

Lanyi, J. K. 2006. Bacteriorhodopsin, Molecular Biology of. Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. .

Author Information

  1. University of California, Irvine, CA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Bacteriorhodopsin is a light-driven pump that generates an electrochemical gradient for protons across the membrane. It is unique among such transporters, widespread in biology, in being a small, seven-transmembrane helical protein. Its remarkably simple transport mechanism is driven by the thermal reisomerization of the photoisomerized 13-cis retinal to all-trans. The ease of performing static and time-resolved spectroscopy of many kinds, as well as the propensity of the protein for crystallization, have generated a large amount of valuable information about the transformations of the retinal and the protein during the transport cycle. The data describe how the motions of the retinal cause structural changes that result in proton transfers between donor and acceptor groups inside the protein and in the release and uptake of a proton at the opposite membrane surfaces. As a result, today, bacteriorhodopsin is the best-understood ion pump.


  • Photoisomerization;
  • Photocycle;
  • Photointermediates;
  • Retinal Schiff Base;
  • Schiff Base Counterion;
  • Transmembrane Helix;
  • Ion Pump;
  • Chemiosmotic Coupling