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EMBO J. 1998 Feb 2;17(3):688-95.

Mode of interaction of the single a subunit with the multimeric c subunits during the translocation of the coupling ions by F1F0 ATPases.

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


We have recently isolated a mutant (aK220R, aV264E, aI278N) of the Na+-translocating Escherichia coli/Propionigenium modestum ATPase hybrid with a Na+-inhibited growth phenotype on succinate. ATP hydrolysis by the reconstituted mutant ATPase was inhibited by external (N side) NaCl but not by internal (P side) NaCl. In contrast, LiCl activated the ATPase from the N side and inhibited it from the P side. A similar pattern of activation and inhibition was observed with NaCl and the ATPase from the parent strain PEF42. We conclude from these results that the binding sites for the coupling ions on the c subunits are freely accessible from the N side. Upon occupation of these sites, the ATPase becomes more active, provided that the ions can be further translocated to the P side through a channel of the a subunit. If by mutation of the a subunit this channel becomes impermeable for Na+, N side Na+ ions specifically inhibit the ATPase activity. These conclusions were corroborated by the observation that proton transport into proteoliposomes containing the mutant ATPase was abolished by N side but not by P side Na+ ions. In contrast, LiCl affected proton translocation from either side, similar to the sidedness effect of Na+ ions on H+ transport by the parent hybrid ATPase. If the ATPase carrying the mutated a subunit was incubated with 22NaCl and ATP, 1 mol 22Na+/mol enzyme was occluded. With the parent hybrid ATPase, 22Na+ occlusion was not observed. The occluded 22Na+ could be removed from its tight binding site by 20 mM LiCl, while incubation with 20 mM NaCl was without effect. Li+ but not Na+ is therefore apparently able to pass through the mutated a subunit and make the entrapped Na+ ions accessible again to the aqueous environment. These results suggest an ion translocation mechanism through F0 that in the ATP hydrolysis mode involves binding of the coupling ions from the cytoplasm to the multiple c subunits, ATP-driven rotation to bring a Na+, Li+, or H+-loaded c subunit into a contact site with the a subunit and release of the coupling ions through the a subunit channel to the periplasmic surface of the membrane.

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