Structural aspects of proton-pumping ATPases

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1990 Jan 30;326(1236):367-78. doi: 10.1098/rstb.1990.0018.


ATP synthase is found in bacteria, chloroplasts and mitochondria. The simplest known example of such an enzyme is that in the eubacterium Escherichia coli; it is a membrane-bound assembly of eight different polypeptides assembled with a stoichiometry of alpha 3 beta 3 gamma 1 delta 1 epsilon 1 a1b2c10-12. The first five of these constitute a globular structure, F1-ATPase, which is bound to an intrinsic membrane domain, F0, an assembly of the three remaining subunits. ATP synthases driven by photosynthesis are slightly more complex. In chloroplasts, and probably in photosynthetic bacteria, they have nine subunits, all homologues of the components of the E. coli enzyme; the additional subunit is a duplicated and diverged relation of subunit b. The mammalian mitochondrial enzyme is more complex. It contains 14 different polypeptides, of which 13 have been characterized. Two membrane components, a (or ATPase-6) and A6L, are encoded in the mitochondrial genome in overlapping genes and the remaining subunits are nuclear gene products that are translated on cytoplasmic ribosomes and then imported into the organelle. The sequence of the proteins of ATP-synthase have provided information about amino acids that are important for its function. For example, amino acids contributing to nucleotide binding sites have been identified. Also, they provide the basis of models of secondary structure of membrane components that constitute the transmembrane proton channel. An understanding of the coupling of the transmembrane potential gradient for protons, delta mu H+, to ATP synthesis will probably require the determination of the structure of the entire membrane bound complex. Crystals have been obtained of the globular domain, F1-ATPase. They diffract to a resolution of 3-4 A and data collection is in progress. As a preliminary step towards crystallization of the entire complex, we have purified it from bovine mitochondria and reconstituted it into phospholipid vesicles.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Bacteria / enzymology*
  • Chloroplasts / enzymology
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Membranes / enzymology
  • Mitochondria / enzymology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases / genetics*
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases