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J Bioenerg Biomembr. 1992 Dec;24(6):587-99.

Proton-coupled bioenergetic processes in extremely alkaliphilic bacteria.

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Department of Biochemistry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, City University of New York, New York 10029.


Oxidative phosphorylation, which involves an exclusively proton-coupled ATP synthase, and pH homeostasis, which depends upon electrogenic antiport of cytoplasmic Na+ in exchange for H+, are the two known bioenergetic processes that require inward proton translocation in extremely alkaliphilic bacteria. Energy coupling to oxidative phosphorylation is particularly difficult to fit to a strictly chemiosmotic model because of the low bulk electrochemical proton gradient that follows from the maintenance of a cytoplasmic pH just above 8 during growth at pH 10.5 and higher. A large quantitative and variable discrepancy between the putative chemiosmotic driving force and the phosphorylation potential results. This is compounded by a nonequivalence between respiration-dependent bulk gradients and artificially imposed ones in energizing ATP synthesis, and by an apparent requirement for specific respiratory chain complexes that do not relate solely to their role in generation of bulk gradients. Special features of the synthase may contribute to the mode of energization, just as novel features of the Na+ cycle may relate to the extraordinary capacity of the extreme alkaliphiles to achieve pH homeostasis during growth at, or sudden shifts to, an external pH of 10.5 and above.

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