Regulation and isoform function of the V-ATPases

Biochemistry. 2010 Jun 15;49(23):4715-23. doi: 10.1021/bi100397s.


The vacuolar (H(+))-ATPases are ATP-dependent proton pumps that acidify intracellular compartments and, in some cases, transport protons across the plasma membrane of eukaryotic cells. Intracellular V-ATPases play an important role in normal physiological processes such as receptor-mediated endocytosis, intracellular membrane trafficking, pro-hormone processing, protein degradation, and the coupled uptake of small molecules, such as neurotransmitters. They also function in the entry of various pathogenic agents, including many envelope viruses, like influenza virus, and toxins, like anthrax toxin. Plasma membrane V-ATPases function in renal pH homeostasis, bone resorption and sperm maturation, and various disease processes, including renal tubular acidosis, osteopetrosis, and tumor metastasis. V-ATPases are composed of a peripheral V(1) domain containing eight different subunits that is responsible for ATP hydrolysis and an integral V(0) domain containing six different subunits that translocates protons. In mammalian cells, most of the V-ATPase subunits exist in multiple isoforms which are often expressed in a tissue specific manner. Isoforms of one of the V(0) subunits (subunit a) have been shown to possess information that targets the V-ATPase to distinct cellular destinations. Mutations in isoforms of subunit a lead to the human diseases osteopetrosis and renal tubular acidosis. A number of mechanisms are employed to regulate V-ATPase activity in vivo, including reversible dissociation of the V(1) and V(0) domains, control of the tightness of coupling of proton transport and ATP hydrolysis, and selective targeting of V-ATPases to distinct cellular membranes. Isoforms of subunit a are involved in regulation both via the control of coupling and via selective targeting. This review will begin with a brief introduction to the function, structure, and mechanism of the V-ATPases followed by a discussion of the role of V-ATPase subunit isoforms and the mechanisms involved in regulation of V-ATPase activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eukaryotic Cells / chemistry*
  • Eukaryotic Cells / enzymology*
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / chemistry
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Isoenzymes / physiology
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Subunits
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Vacuolar Proton-Translocating ATPases / chemistry
  • Vacuolar Proton-Translocating ATPases / metabolism*
  • Vacuolar Proton-Translocating ATPases / physiology


  • Isoenzymes
  • Protein Subunits
  • Vacuolar Proton-Translocating ATPases