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Biochemistry. 1997 Jul 29;36(30):9185-94.

Molecular basis for the coupling ion selectivity of F1F0 ATP synthases: probing the liganding groups for Na+ and Li+ in the c subunit of the ATP synthase from Propionigenium modestum.

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Mikrobiologisches Institut, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, ETH-Zentrum, Schmelzbergstrasse 7, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland.


The conserved glutamate residue at position 65 of the Propionigenium modestum c subunit is directly involved in binding and translocation of Na+ across the membrane. The site-specific introduction of the cQ32I and cS66A substitutions in the putative vicinity to cE65 inhibited growth of the single-site mutants on succinate minimal agar, indicating that both amino acid residues are important for proper function of the oxidative phosphorylation system. This growth inhibition was abolished, however, if the cF84L/cL87V double mutation was additionally present in the P. modestum c subunit. The newly constructed Escherichia coli strain MPC848732I, harboring the cQ32I/cF84L/cL87V triple mutation, revealed a change in the coupling ion specificity from Na+ to H+. ATP hydrolysis by this enzyme was therefore not activated by NaCl, and ATP-driven H+ transport was not affected by this alkali salt. Both activities were influenced, however, by LiCl. These data demonstrate the loss of the Na+ binding site and retention of Li+ and H+ binding sites within this mutant ATPase. In the E. coli strain MPC848766A (cS66A/cF84L/cL87V), the specificity of the ATPase was further restricted to H+ as the exclusive coupling ion. Therefore, neither Na+ nor Li+ stimulated the ATPase activity, and no ATP-driven Li+ transport was observed. The ATPase of the E. coli mutant MPC32N (cQ32N) was activated by NaCl and LiCl. The mutant ATPase exhibited a 5-fold higher Km for NaCl but no change in the Km for LiCl in comparison to that of the parent strain. These results demonstrate that the binding of Na+ to the c subunit of P. modestum requires liganding groups provided by Q32, E65, and S66. For the coordination of Li+, two liganding partners, E65 and S66, are sufficient, and H+ translocation was mediated by E65 alone.

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