Send to

Choose Destination
J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Jun 27;134(25):10419-27. doi: 10.1021/ja300129x. Epub 2012 Jun 12.

Ammonium transporters achieve charge transfer by fragmenting their substrate.

Author information

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Centre for Research in Molecular Modeling (CERMM), Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke Street West, Montréal, Québec H4B 1R6, Canada.


Proteins of the Amt/MEP family facilitate ammonium transport across the membranes of plants, fungi, and bacteria and are essential for growth in nitrogen-poor environments. Some are known to facilitate the diffusion of the neutral NH(3), while others, notably in plants, transport the positively charged NH(4)(+). On the basis of the structural data for AmtB from Escherichia coli , we illustrate the mechanism by which proteins from the Amt family can sustain electrogenic transport. Free energy calculations show that NH(4)(+) is stable in the AmtB pore, reaching a binding site from which it can spontaneously transfer a proton to a pore-lining histidine residue (His168). The substrate diffuses down the pore in the form of NH(3), while the excess proton is cotransported through a highly conserved hydrogen-bonded His168-His318 pair. This constitutes a novel permeation mechanism that confers to the histidine dyad an essential mechanistic role that was so far unknown.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Chemical Society
Loading ...
Support Center