Electroneutral K+/H+ exchange in mitochondrial membrane vesicles involves Yol027/Letm1 proteins

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Jun 1;1711(1):41-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2005.02.018. Epub 2005 Mar 22.


YOL027c in yeast and LETM1 in humans encode integral proteins of the inner mitochondrial membrane. They have been implicated in mitochondrial K+ homeostasis and volume control. To further characterize their role, we made use of submitochondrial particles (SMPs) with entrapped K+- and H+-sensitive fluorescent dyes PBFI and BCECF, respectively, to study the kinetics of K+ and H+ transport across the yeast inner mitochondrial membrane. Wild-type SMPs exhibited rapid, reciprocal translocations of K+ and H+ driven by concentration gradients of either of them. K+ and H+ translocations have stoichiometries similar to those mediated by the exogenous K+/H+ exchanger nigericin, and they are shown to be essentially electroneutral and obligatorily coupled. Moreover, [K+] gradients move H+ against its concentration gradient, and vice-versa. These features, as well as the sensitivity of K+ and H+ fluxes to quinine and Mg2+, qualify these activities as K+/H+ exchange reactions. Both activities are abolished when the yeast Yol027p protein is absent (yol027Delta mutant SMPs), indicating that it has an essential role in this reaction. The replacement of the yeast Yol027p by the human Letm1 protein restores K+/H+ exchange activity confirming functional homology of the yeast and human proteins. Considering their newly identified function, we propose to refer to the yeast YOL027c gene and the human LETM1 gene as yMKH1 and hMKH1, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Cytoplasmic Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Potassium-Hydrogen Antiporters / genetics
  • Potassium-Hydrogen Antiporters / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*
  • Yeasts / genetics
  • Yeasts / metabolism


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • LETM1 protein, human
  • MDM38 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Potassium-Hydrogen Antiporters
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Hydrogen
  • Potassium