The membrane-bound beta subunit of the oxaloacetate decarboxylase Na+ pump of Klebsiella pneumoniae catalyzes the decarboxylation of enzyme-bound biotin. This event is coupled to the transport of 2 Na+ ions into the periplasm and consumes a periplasmically derived proton. The connecting fragment IIIa and transmembrane helices IV and VIII of the beta subunit are highly conserved, harboring residues D203, Y229, N373, G377, S382, and R389 that play a profound role in catalysis. We report here detailed kinetic analyses of the wild-type enzyme and the beta subunit mutants N373D, N373L, S382A, S382D, S382T, R389A, and R389D. In these studies, pH profiles, Na+ binding affinities, Hill coefficients, Vmax values and inhibition by Na+ was determined. A prominent result is the complete lack of oxaloacetate decarboxylase activity of the S382A mutant at Na+ concentrations up to 20 mm and recovery of significant activities at elevated Na+ concentrations (KNa approximately 400 mm at pH 6.0), where the wild-type enzyme is almost completely inhibited. These results indicate impaired Na+ binding to the S382 including site in the S382A mutant. Oxaloacetate decarboxylation by the S382A mutant at high Na+ concentrations is uncoupled from the vectorial events of Na+ or H+ translocation across the membrane. Based on all data with the mutant enzymes we propose a coupling mechanism, which includes Na+ binding to center I contributed by D203 (region IIIa) and N373 (helix VIII) and center II contributed by Y229 (helix IV) and S382 (helix VIII). These centers are exposed to the cytoplasmic surface in the carboxybiotin-bound state of the beta subunit and become exposed to the periplasmic surface after decarboxylation of this compound. During the countertransport of 2 Na+ and 1 H+ Y229 of center II switches between the protonated and deprotonated Na+-bound state.