Aerobic growth of Escherichia coli is reduced and ATP synthesis is selectively inhibited when five C-terminal residues are deleted from the ε subunit of ATP synthase [Microbiology]

July 9th, 2015 by Shah, N. B., Duncan, T. M.

F-type ATP synthases are rotary nanomotor enzymes involved in cellular energy metabolism in eukaryotes and eubacteria. The ATP synthase from Gram-positive and -negative model bacteria can be auto-inhibited by the C-terminal domain of its ϵ subunit (ϵCTD), but the importance of ϵ inhibition in vivo is unclear. Functional rotation is thought to be blocked by insertion of the latter half of the ϵCTD into the central cavity of the catalytic complex (F1). In the inhibited state of the Escherichia coli enzyme, the ϵCTD's final segment is deeply buried but has few specific interactions with other subunits. This region of the ϵCTD is variable or absent in other bacteria that exhibit strong ϵ-inhibition in vitro. Here, genetically deleting the last 5 residues of the ϵCTD (ϵΔ5) caused a greater defect in respiratory growth than did the complete absence of the ϵCTD. Isolated membranes with ϵΔ5 generated proton-motive force by respiration as effectively as with wild-type ϵ, but showed a nearly 3-fold decrease in ATP synthesis rate. In contrast, the ϵΔ5 truncation did not change the intrinsic rate of ATP hydrolysis with membranes. Further, the ϵΔ5 subunit retained high affinity for isolated F1, but reduced ϵ's maximal inhibition of F1-ATPase from >90% to ~20%. The results suggest that the ϵCTD has distinct regulatory interactions with F1 when rotary catalysis operates in opposite directions for the hydrolysis or synthesis of ATP.
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