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Science. 1999 Nov 26;286(5445):1722-4.

Mechanical rotation of the c subunit oligomer in ATP synthase (F0F1): direct observation.

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  • 1Division of Biological Sciences, Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research, Osaka University, CREST (Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology) of Japan Science and Technology Corporation, Ibaraki, Osaka 567-0047, Japan.


F0F1, found in mitochondria or bacterial membranes, synthesizes adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) coupling with an electrochemical proton gradient and also reversibly hydrolyzes ATP to form the gradient. An actin filament connected to a c subunit oligomer of F0 was able to rotate by using the energy of ATP hydrolysis. The rotary torque produced by the c subunit oligomer reached about 40 piconewton-nanometers, which is similar to that generated by the gamma subunit in the F1 motor. These results suggest that the gamma and c subunits rotate together during ATP hydrolysis and synthesis. Thus, coupled rotation may be essential for energy coupling between proton transport through F0 and ATP hydrolysis or synthesis in F1.

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