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J Membr Biol. 1986;89(2):113-25.

Bioenergetics of alkalophilic bacteria.


The central problem for organisms which grow optimally, and in some cases obligately, at pH values of 10 to 11, is the maintenance of a relatively acidified cytoplasm. A key component of the pH homeostatic mechanism is an electrogenic Na+/H+ antiporter which--by virtue of kinetic properties and/or its concentration in the membrane--catalyzes net proton uptake while the organisms extrude protons during respiration. The antiporter is also capable of maintaining a constant pHin during profound elevations in pHout as long as Na+ entry is facilitated by the presence of solutes which are taken up with Na+. Secondary to the problem of acidifying the interior is the adverse effect of the large pH gradient, acid in, on the total pmf of alkalophile cells. For the purposes of solute uptake and motility, the organisms appear to largely bypass the problem of a low pmf by utilizing a sodium motive force for energization. However, ATP synthesis appears not to resolve the energetics problem by using Na+ or by incorporating the proton-translocating ATPase into intracellular organelles. The current data suggest that effective proton pumping carried out by the alkalophile respiratory chain at high pH may deliver at least some portion of the protons to the proton-utilizing catalysts, i.e., the F1F0-ATPase and the Na+/H+ antiporter, by some localized pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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