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FEBS J. 2005 Nov;272(21):5474-83.

Structural evidence for a constant c11 ring stoichiometry in the sodium F-ATP synthase.

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Institut für Mikrobiologie, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Zürich, Switzerland.


The Na+-dependent F-ATP synthases of Ilyobacter tartaricus and Propionigenium modestum contain membrane-embedded ring-shaped c subunit assemblies with a stoichiometry of 11. Subunit c from either organism was overexpressed in Escherichia coli using a plasmid containing the corresponding gene, extracted from the membrane using detergent and then purified. Subsequent analyses by SDS/PAGE revealed that only a minor portion of the c subunits had assembled into stable rings, while the majority migrated as monomers. The population of rings consisted mainly of c11, but more slowly migrating assemblies were also found, which might reflect other c ring stoichiometries. We show that they consisted of higher aggregates of homogeneous c11 rings and/or assemblies of c11 rings and single c monomers. Atomic force microscopy topographs of c rings reconstituted into lipid bilayers showed that the c ring assemblies had identical diameters and that stoichiometries throughout all rings resolved at high resolution. This finding did not depend on whether the rings were assembled into crystalline or densely packed assemblies. Most of these rings represented completely assembled undecameric complexes. Occasionally, rings lacking a few subunits or hosting additional subunits in their cavity were observed. The latter rings may represent the aggregates between c11 and c1, as observed by SDS/PAGE. Our results are congruent with a stable c11 ring stoichiometry that seems to not be influenced by the expression level of subunit c in the bacteria.

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