PA1b Inhibitor Binding to Subunits c and e of the Vacuolar ATPase Reveals its Insecticidal Mechanism [Bioenergetics]

May 2nd, 2014 by Muench, S. P., Rawson, S., Eyraud, V., Delmas, A. F., Da Silva, P., Phillips, C., Trinick, J., Harrison, M. A., Gressent, F., Huss, M.

The vacuolar ATPase (V-ATPase) is a 1MDa transmembrane proton pump that operates via a rotary mechanism fuelled by ATP. Essential for eukaryotic cell homeostasis, it plays central roles in bone remodeling and tumor invasiveness, making it a key therapeutic target. Its importance in arthropod physiology also makes it a promising pesticide target. The major challenge in designing lead compounds against the V-ATPase is its ubiquitous nature, such that any therapeutic must be capable of targeting particular isoforms. Here, we have characterized the binding site on the V-ATPase of pea albumin 1b (PA1b), a small cystine knot protein that shows exquisitely selective inhibition of insect V-ATPases. Electron microscopy shows that PA1b binding occurs across a range of equivalent sites on the c-ring of the membrane domain. In the presence of Mg.ATP, PA1b localizes to a single site, distant from subunit a, which is predicted to be the interface for other inhibitors. Photoaffinity labeling studies show radiolabeling of subunits c and e. In addition, weevil resistance to PA1b is correlated with bafilomycin resistance, caused by mutation of subunit c. The data indicate a binding site to which both subunits c and e contribute and inhibition that involves locking the c-ring rotor to a static subunit e and not subunit a. This has implications for understanding the V-ATPase mechanism and that of inhibitors with therapeutic or pesticidal potential. It also provides the first evidence for the position of subunit e within the complex.