A channel protein is a protein that permits the movement of certain molecules across a cell membrane.
There are four kinds of transport that is observed in cells.
●Simple diffusion takes place amidst small gas molecules, e.g. oxygen and carbon dioxide, and other non-polar chemicals e.g. steroid hormones as it as the needed chemistry and size to flow through the cell membrane.
●facilitated diffusion is aided by Channel Proteins which are majorly involved in transporting more hydrophilic charged molecules (e.g. ions, water, and sugars such as glucose)which can't pass through naturally or by simple diffusion by providing a passageway via the cell membrane. This causes them to be transported at near diffusion speeds.
●Facilitated diffusion with the aid of Carrier Proteins (Uniporters)
These are proteins which attach and move molecules across the membrane. Large molecules such as glucose find it difficult to go through the narrow passageway channelled by channel proteins are transported through the uniporters resulting in a conformational alteration in the protein, which move the molecule to the opposite region of the cell. Carrier proteins do not utilize energy as molecules flow down its concentration gradient.
● More complicated carrier proteins are used to transport substances against its concentration gradient, through Active transport (involves a carrier protein that employs ATP). It permits cells to move materials with the aid of the ion gradient formed with other ATP carrier proteins.
The unique difference between a channel protein and a carrier protein is stereospecificity.
Channel proteins permit certain sized molecules to pass, withiut it binding to it.
Carrier proteins possess an active site the chemical to be moved must attach to. The binding action promotes flow of the large molecule via the cell membrane.