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J Biol Chem. 2011 May 13;286(19):16807-13. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.209965. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Modulation of nucleotide specificity of thermophilic F(o)F(1)-ATP Synthase by epsilon-subunit.

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ATP Synthesis Regulation Project, International Research Project (ICORP), Japan Science and Technology Corporation, Aomi 2-41, Tokyo 135-0064, Japan.


The C-terminal two α-helices of the ε-subunit of thermophilic Bacillus F(o)F(1)-ATP synthase (TF(o)F(1)) adopt two conformations: an extended long arm ("up-state") and a retracted hairpin ("down-state"). As ATP becomes poor, ε changes the conformation from the down-state to the up-state and suppresses further ATP hydrolysis. Using TF(o)F(1) expressed in Escherichia coli, we compared TF(o)F(1) with up- and down-state ε in the NTP (ATP, GTP, UTP, and CTP) synthesis reactions. TF(o)F(1) with the up-state ε was achieved by inclusion of hexokinase in the assay and TF(o)F(1) with the down-state ε was represented by εΔc-TF(o)F(1), in which ε lacks C-terminal helices and hence cannot adopt the up-state under any conditions. The results indicate that TF(o)F(1) with the down-state ε synthesizes GTP at the same rate of ATP, whereas TF(o)F(1) with the up-state ε synthesizes GTP at a half-rate. Though rates are slow, TF(o)F(1) with the down-state ε even catalyzes UTP and CTP synthesis. Authentic TF(o)F(1) from Bacillus cells also synthesizes ATP and GTP at the same rate in the presence of adenosine 5'-(β,γ-imino)triphosphate (AMP-PNP), an ATP analogue that has been known to stabilize the down-state. NTP hydrolysis and NTP-driven proton pumping activity of εΔc-TF(o)F(1) suggests similar modulation of nucleotide specificity in NTP hydrolysis. Thus, depending on its conformation, ε-subunit modulates substrate specificity of TF(o)F(1).

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