Catalytic site forms and controls in ATP synthase catalysis

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 May 31;1458(2-3):252-62. doi: 10.1016/s0005-2728(00)00077-3.


A suggested minimal scheme for substrate binding by and interconversion of three forms of the catalytic sites of the ATP synthase is presented. Each binding change, that drives simultaneous interchange of the three catalytic site forms, requires a 120 degrees rotation of the gamma with respect to the beta subunits. The binding of substrate(s) at two catalytic sites is regarded as sufficing for near maximal catalytic rates to be attained. Although three sites do not need to be filled for rapid catalysis, during rapid bisite catalysis some enzyme may be transiently present with three sites filled. Forms with preferential binding for ADP and P(i) or for ATP are considered to arise from the transition state and participate in other steps of the catalysis. Intermediate forms and steps that may be involved are evaluated. Experimental evidence for energy-dependent steps and for control of coupling to proton translocation and transition state forms are reviewed. Impact of relevant past data on present understanding of catalytic events is considered. In synthesis a key step is suggested in which proton translocation begins to deform an open site so as to increase the affinity for ADP and P(i), that then bind and pass through the transition state, and yield tightly bound ATP in one binding change. ADP binding appears to be a key parameter controlling rotation during synthesis. In hydrolysis ATP binding to a loose site likely precedes any proton translocation, with proton movement occurring as the tight site form develops. Aspects needing further study are noted. Characteristics of the related MgADP inhibition of the F(1) ATPases that have undermined many observations are summarized, and relations of three-site filling to catalysis are assessed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP Synthetase Complexes
  • Adenosine Diphosphate / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Hydrolysis
  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Multienzyme Complexes / metabolism
  • Phosphates / metabolism
  • Phosphotransferases (Phosphate Group Acceptor) / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases / metabolism*
  • Protons


  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Phosphates
  • Protons
  • Adenosine Diphosphate
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • ATP Synthetase Complexes
  • Phosphotransferases (Phosphate Group Acceptor)
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases