Na+ transport by the A1AO ATP synthase purified from Thermococcus onnurineus and reconstituted into liposomes [Microbiology]

January 15th, 2015 by Mayer, F., Lim, J. K., Langer, J. D., Kang, S. G., Muller, V.

The ATP synthase of many archaea has the conserved sodium ion binding motif in its rotor subunit, implying that these A1AO ATP synthases use Na+ as coupling ion. However, this has never been experimentally verified with a purified system. To experimentally address the nature of the coupling ion, we have purified the A1AO ATP synthase from T. onnurineus. It contains nine subunits that are functionally coupled. The enzyme hydrolyzed ATP, CTP, GTP, UTP and ITP with nearly identical activities of around 40 U/mg protein and was active over a wide pH range with maximal activity at pH 7. Noteworthy was the temperature profile. ATP hydrolysis was maximal at 80°C and still retained an activity of 2.5 U/mg protein at 45°C. The high activity of the enzyme at 45°C opened, for the first time, a way to directly measure ion transport in an A1AO ATP synthase. Therefore, the enzyme was reconstituted into liposomes generated from Escherichia coli lipids. These proteoliposomes were still active at 45°C and coupled ATP hydrolysis to primary and electrogenic Na+ transport. This is the first proof of Na+ transport by an A1AO ATP synthase and these findings are discussed in light of the distribution of the sodium ion binding motif in archaea and the role of Na+ in the bioenergetics of archaea.