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Nature. 2010 Dec 2;468(7324):717-20. doi: 10.1038/nature09488. Epub 2010 Oct 24.

Structure and mechanism of the S component of a bacterial ECF transporter.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Lewis Thomas Laboratory, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, USA.


The energy-coupling factor (ECF) transporters, responsible for vitamin uptake in prokaryotes, are a unique family of membrane transporters. Each ECF transporter contains a membrane-embedded, substrate-binding protein (known as the S component), an energy-coupling module that comprises two ATP-binding proteins (known as the A and A' components) and a transmembrane protein (known as the T component). The structure and transport mechanism of the ECF family remain unknown. Here we report the crystal structure of RibU, the S component of the ECF-type riboflavin transporter from Staphylococcus aureus at 3.6-Å resolution. RibU contains six transmembrane segments, adopts a previously unreported transporter fold and contains a riboflavin molecule bound to the L1 loop and the periplasmic portion of transmembrane segments 4-6. Structural analysis reveals the essential ligand-binding residues, identifies the putative transport path and, with sequence alignment, uncovers conserved structural features and suggests potential mechanisms of action among the ECF transporters.

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