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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Oct 8;110(41):16468-73. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1305497110. Epub 2013 Sep 23.

Phosphate release coupled to rotary motion of F1-ATPase.

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Department of Theoretical Biophysics, Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


F1-ATPase, the catalytic domain of ATP synthase, synthesizes most of the ATP in living organisms. Running in reverse powered by ATP hydrolysis, this hexameric ring-shaped molecular motor formed by three αβ-dimers creates torque on its central γ-subunit. This reverse operation enables detailed explorations of the mechanochemical coupling mechanisms in experiment and simulation. Here, we use molecular dynamics simulations to construct a first atomistic conformation of the intermediate state following the 40° substep of rotary motion, and to study the timing and molecular mechanism of inorganic phosphate (Pi) release coupled to the rotation. In response to torque-driven rotation of the γ-subunit in the hydrolysis direction, the nucleotide-free αβE interface forming the "empty" E site loosens and singly charged Pi readily escapes to the P loop. By contrast, the interface stays closed with doubly charged Pi. The γ-rotation tightens the ATP-bound αβTP interface, as required for hydrolysis. The calculated rate for the outward release of doubly charged Pi from the αβE interface 120° after ATP hydrolysis closely matches the ~1-ms functional timescale. Conversely, Pi release from the ADP-bound αβDP interface postulated in earlier models would occur through a kinetically infeasible inward-directed pathway. Our simulations help reconcile conflicting interpretations of single-molecule experiments and crystallographic studies by clarifying the timing of Pi exit, its pathway and kinetics, associated changes in Pi protonation, and changes of the F1-ATPase structure in the 40° substep. Important elements of the molecular mechanism of Pi release emerging from our simulations appear to be conserved in myosin despite the different functional motions.

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