Special Issue "Structure, Dynamics, and Function of Protein Tunnels and Channels"

A special issue of Life (ISSN 2075-1729). This special issue belongs to the section "Proteins and Proteomics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Jan Brezovsky
Guest Editor
Laboratory of Biomolecular Interactions and Transport, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Uniwersytetu Poznanskiego 6, 61-614 Poznan, & International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw, 4 Ks. Trojdena Street, 02-109 Warsaw, Poland
Interests: structural bioinformatics; computational protein design; biophysics; molecular modeling; drug design and discovery; ligand transport
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Artur Gora
Guest Editor
Tunneling Group, Biotechnology Centre, Silesian University of Technology, ul. Krzywoustego 8, 44-100 Gliwice, Poland
Interests: computational chemistry, bioinformatics, protein dynamics, protein engineering, drug design, proteins evolution, new methods development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Protein structures are not perfectly compact but contain a very complex system of voids, some parts of which are essential for protein function by forming transport tunnels and channels. Protein tunnels connect the functional buried cavities with bulk solvent, whereas protein channels enable transport through biological membranes. These transport paths govern the exchange rates of ligands, ions, and water solvent. Detailed knowledge of these paths is critical to understand the mechanisms of protein function, which can be exploited for practical applications. By engineering these structural features, protein variants with improved stability, activity or selectivity can be developed. As a functionally relevant component, protein tunnels and channels represent attractive targets for drug discovery.

However, navigating the voids in proteins is not straightforward, particularly when considering the dynamic nature of proteins. The perpetual conformational changes cause constrictions and expansion of some regions of the space, i.e., gating. The existence of such molecular gates translates into a very fluid behavior of tunnels and channels, frequently resulting in their transient presence. Since the primary source of protein structure information is their crystal structures, many transient tunnels and gates undoubtedly remain to be identified, and their functional roles and to be unveiled.

In this view, the primary goal of this Special Issue of Life is to gather original research articles on exciting discoveries of novel transport paths in proteins, functional characterization of transport paths, engineering of such pathways, and their perturbation by the environment (ligands, drugs, solvents,  membrane, etc.) investigated by experimental and/or computational methods; as well as studies on the development and benchmarking of methods for identification and analyses of transport pathways. Critical reviews focused on specific and timely topics relevant to molecular transport in proteins are also highly welcomed.

Prof. Dr. Jan Brezovsky
Prof. Dr. Artur Gora
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Life is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • protein tunnel
  • protein channel
  • ligand transport
  • molecular gating
  • protein dynamics

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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