The cellular membrane as a mediator for small molecule interaction with membrane proteins

Christopher G. Mayne, Mark J. Arcario, Paween Mahinthichaichan, Javier L. Baylon, Josh V. Vermaas, Latifeh Navidpour, Po Chao Wen, Sundarapandian Thangapandian, Emad Tajkhorshid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The cellular membrane constitutes the first element that encounters a wide variety of molecular species to which a cell might be exposed. Hosting a large number of structurally and functionally diverse proteins associated with this key metabolic compartment, the membrane not only directly controls the traffic of various molecules in and out of the cell, it also participates in such diverse and important processes as signal transduction and chemical processing of incoming molecular species. In this article, we present a number of cases where details of interaction of small molecular species such as drugs with the membrane, which are often experimentally inaccessible, have been studied using advanced molecular simulation techniques. We have selected systems in which partitioning of the small molecule with the membrane constitutes a key step for its final biological function, often binding to and interacting with a protein associated with the membrane. These examples demonstrate that membrane partitioning is not only important for the overall distribution of drugs and other small molecules into different compartments of the body, it may also play a key role in determining the efficiency and the mode of interaction of the drug with its target protein. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Biosimulations edited by Ilpo Vattulainen and Tomasz Róg.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2290-2304
Number of pages15
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Membrane
  • Membrane proteins
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Small molecules


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