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Nat Commun. 2013;4:1678. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2689.

A light-driven sodium ion pump in marine bacteria.

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Department of Frontier Materials, Nagoya Institute of Technology, Showa-ku, Nagoya 466-8555, Japan.


Light-driven proton-pumping rhodopsins are widely distributed in many microorganisms. They convert sunlight energy into proton gradients that serve as energy source of the cell. Here we report a new functional class of a microbial rhodopsin, a light-driven sodium ion pump. We discover that the marine flavobacterium Krokinobacter eikastus possesses two rhodopsins, the first, KR1, being a prototypical proton pump, while the second, KR2, pumps sodium ions outward. Rhodopsin KR2 can also pump lithium ions, but converts to a proton pump when presented with potassium chloride or salts of larger cations. These data indicate that KR2 is a compatible sodium ion-proton pump, and spectroscopic analysis showed it binds sodium ions in its extracellular domain. These findings suggest that light-driven sodium pumps may be as important in situ as their proton-pumping counterparts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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