There is a symbiotic relationship between the evolution of fundamental theory and the winning of experimentally-based knowledge. The impact of the General Chemiosmotic Theory on our understanding of the nature of membrane transport processes is described and discussed. The history of experimental studies on transport catalysed by ionophore antibiotics and the membrane proteins of mitochondria and bacteria are used to illustrate the evolution of knowledge and theory. Recent experimental approaches to understanding the lactose-H+ symport protein of Escherichia coli and other sugar porters are described to show that the lack of experimental knowledge of the three-dimensional structures of the proteins currently limits the development of theories about their molecular mechanism of translocation catalysis.

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