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Q Rev Biophys. 2011 Aug;44(3):311-56. doi: 10.1017/S0033583510000338. Epub 2011 Mar 22.

Structural divergence of the rotary ATPases.

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Institute of Membrane and Systems Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, The University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorks, LS2 9JT, UK.


The rotary ATPase family of membrane protein complexes may have only three members, but each one plays a fundamental role in biological energy conversion. The F₁F(o)-ATPase (F-ATPase) couples ATP synthesis to the electrochemical membrane potential in bacteria, mitochondria and chloroplasts, while the vacuolar H⁺-ATPase (V-ATPase) operates as an ATP-driven proton pump in eukaryotic membranes. In different species of archaea and bacteria, the A₁A(o)-ATPase (A-ATPase) can function as either an ATP synthase or an ion pump. All three of these multi-subunit complexes are rotary molecular motors, sharing a fundamentally similar mechanism in which rotational movement drives the energy conversion process. By analogy to macroscopic systems, individual subunits can be assigned to rotor, axle or stator functions. Recently, three-dimensional reconstructions from electron microscopy and single particle image processing have led to a significant step forward in understanding of the overall architecture of all three forms of these complexes and have allowed the organisation of subunits within the rotor and stator parts of the motors to be more clearly mapped out. This review describes the emerging consensus regarding the organisation of the rotor and stator components of V-, A- and F-ATPases, examining core similarities that point to a common evolutionary origin, and highlighting key differences. In particular, it discusses how newly revealed variation in the complexity of the inter-domain connections may impact on the mechanics and regulation of these molecular machines.

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