Biology as Poetry: Biochemistry

Bacteriophage Ecology Group

Sodium-Potassium Pump

Main transport protein employed in generating electrochemical gradients across the plasma membrane of animal cells.

The sodium-potassium pump effects the primary active transport of three sodium ions out of a cell (3Na+) and, at the same time, two potassium ions into a cell (3K+), all at the expense of one ATP. The result is low concentrations of sodium ion inside of animal cells and relatively high concentrations outside of cells as well as high concentrations of potassium ion inside of cells and low concentrations extracellularly.

Action potentials are conducted along neurons and other cells possessing excitable membranes. This occurs via a temporary reversal of this state of low sodium ion concentrations inside of cells and low potassium ion concentrations outside of cells. The normal, resting state is then reestablished as per the function of numerous copies of the sodium-potassium pump.

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