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FEBS Lett. 2006 Feb 13;580(4):1049-55. Epub 2005 Dec 22.

The A-loop, a novel conserved aromatic acid subdomain upstream of the Walker A motif in ABC transporters, is critical for ATP binding.

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Laboratory of Cell Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, DHHS, Bethesda, MD 20892-4256, USA.


ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters represent one of the largest families of proteins, and transport a variety of substrates ranging from ions to amphipathic anticancer drugs. The functional unit of an ABC transporter is comprised of two transmembrane domains and two cytoplasmic ABC ATPase domains. The energy of the binding and hydrolysis of ATP is used to transport the substrates across membranes. An ABC domain consists of conserved regions, the Walker A and B motifs, the signature (or C) region and the D, H and Q loops. We recently described the A-loop (Aromatic residue interacting with the Adenine ring of ATP), a highly conserved aromatic residue approximately 25 amino acids upstream of the Walker A motif that is essential for ATP-binding. Here, we review the mutational analysis of this subdomain in human P-glycoprotein as well as homology modeling, structural and data mining studies that provide evidence for a functional role of the A-loop in ATP-binding in most members of the superfamily of ABC transporters.

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