Conformations of carnitine and acetylcarnitine and the relationship to mitochondrial transport of fatty acids

W. J. Murray, K. W. Reed, E. B. Roche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


The conformations of carnitine and acetylcarnitine by EHT and CNDO/2 molecular orbital calculations show that carnitine has two low energy conformers. One of these is an extended conformer corresponding to a charge separated species, while the other is a folded conformer having a charged onium head and carboxylate anion in close proximity forming an internal ionic bond. These results suggest that the folded conformation is responsible for the active transport of acetyl- and acyl-carnitine by enzymes which transfer acyl groups into the mitochondria for subsequent fatty acid oxidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-572
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 21 1980


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics

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