Facilitated diffusion

Facilitated diffusion

Facilitated diffusion (or facilitated transport) is a process of diffusion, a form of passive transport facilitated by transport proteins. The facilitated diffusion may occur either across biological membranes or through aqueous compartments of an organism.

Polar molecules and charged ions are dissolved in water but they can not diffuse freely across cell membranes due to the hydrophobic nature of the lipids that make up the lipid bilayers. Only small nonpolar molecules, such as oxygen can diffuse easily across the membrane. All polar molecules should be transported across membranes by proteins that form transmembrane channels. These channels are gated so they can open and close, thus regulating the flow of ions or small polar molecules. Larger molecules are transported by transmembrane carrier proteins, such as permeases that change their conformation as the molecules are carried through, for example glucose or amino acids.

Non-polar molecules, such as retinol or fatty acids are poorly soluble in water. They are transported through aqueous compartments of cells or through extracellular space by water-soluble carriers as retinol binding protein. The metabolites are not changed because no energy is required for facilitated diffusion. Only permease changes its shape in order to transport the metabolites. The form of transport through cell membrane which modifies its metabolites is the group translocation transportation.

Facilitated Diffusion- Another type of Passive Transport that uses a carrier protein.

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