Measurement by a flow dialysis technique of the steady-state proton-motive force in chromatophores from Rhodospirillum rubrum. Comparison with phosphorylation potential

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1978 Apr 11;502(1):111-26. doi: 10.1016/0005-2728(78)90136-6.


1. In the light a transmembrane electrical potential of 100 mV has been estimated to occur in chromatophores from Rhodospirillum rubrum. The potential was determined by measuring the steady-state distribution of the permeant SCN- across the chromatophore membrane using a flow dialysis technique. The potential was not observed in the dark, nor in the presence of antimycin. It was dissipated on the addition of carbonyl cyanide p-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone. The potential was reduced by between 15 and 20 mV when ADP and Pi were added. Hydrolysis of ATP by the chromatophores generated a membrane potential of about 80 mV. 2. Using a flow dialysis technique light-dependent uptake of methylamine was observed only in the presence of concentrations of SCN- that were 500-fold higher than were used to measure the membrane potential. It is concluded that the pH gradient across the illuminated chromatophore membrane is insignificant except in the presence of relatively high concentrations of a permeant anion like thiocyanate. Further evidence that a negligible pH gradient was generated by the chromatophores is that addition of K+ and nigericin to illuminated chromatophores did not stimulate uptake of SCN-. 3. In the light of chromatophores established and maintained a phosphorylation potential of up to 14 kcal/mol. If a phosphorylation potential of this magnitude is to be poised against a proton-motive force that comprises solely a membrane potential of approx. 100 mV, then at least five protons must be translocated for each ATP synthesised via a chemiosmotic mechanism.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenine Nucleotides / metabolism
  • Bacterial Chromatophores / physiology*
  • Bacterial Chromatophores / radiation effects
  • Bacteriochlorophylls / metabolism
  • Dialysis / methods
  • Light
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Phosphates / metabolism*
  • Protons
  • Rhodospirillum rubrum / cytology
  • Rhodospirillum rubrum / physiology*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Adenine Nucleotides
  • Bacteriochlorophylls
  • Phosphates
  • Protons