Carrier protein

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noun, plural: carrier proteins

A protein that transports specific substance through intracellular compartments, into the extracellular fluid, or across the cell membrane.


Carrier proteins are involved in facilitated diffusion and active transport of substances out of or into the cell (e.g. diffusion of sugars, amino acids and nucleosides, uptake of glucose, transportation of salts, glucose, amino acids, etc.). For instance, carrier proteins such as the integral transmembrane proteins embedded in the cell membrane would have a high affinity for specific substances on the cell exterior and would next undergo a conformational change to facilitate the passage of these substances to the cell interior across the membrane barriers.

Related terms: acyl carrier protein, lactose carrier protein.

See also: facilitated diffusion, protein.