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J Exp Biol. 2000 Jan;203(Pt 1):71-80.

Structure, mechanism and regulation of the clathrin-coated vesicle and yeast vacuolar H(+)-ATPases.

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Department of Physiology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


The vacuolar H(+)-ATPases (or V-ATPases) are a family of ATP-dependent proton pumps that carry out acidification of intracellular compartments in eukaryotic cells. This review is focused on our work on the V-ATPases of clathrin-coated vesicles and yeast vacuoles. The coated-vesicle V-ATPase undergoes trafficking to endosomes and synaptic vesicles, where it functions in receptor recycling and neurotransmitter uptake, respectively. The yeast V-ATPase functions to acidify the central vacuole and is necessary both for protein degradation and for coupled transport processes across the vacuolar membrane. The V-ATPases are multisubunit complexes composed of two functional domains. The V(1) domain is a 570 kDa peripheral complex composed of eight subunits of molecular mass 73-14 kDa (subunits A-H) that is responsible for ATP hydrolysis. The V(o) domain is a 260 kDa integral complex composed of five subunits of molecular mass 100-17 kDa (subunits a, d, c, c' and c") that is responsible for proton translocation. To explore the function of individual subunits in the V-ATPase complex as well as to identify residues important in proton transport and ATP hydrolysis, we have employed a combination of chemical modification, site-directed mutagenesis and in vitro reassembly. A central question concerns the mechanism by which vacuolar acidification is controlled in eukaryotic cells. We have proposed that disulfide bond formation between conserved cysteine residues at the catalytic site of the V-ATPase plays an important role in regulating V-ATPase activity in vivo. Other regulatory mechanisms that are discussed include reversible dissociation and reassembly of the V-ATPase complex, changes in the tightness of coupling between proton transport and ATP hydrolysis, differential targeting of V-ATPases within the cell and control of the Cl(-) conductance that is necessary for vacuolar acidification.

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