Indexed on: 21 Dec '06Published on: 21 Dec '06Published in: Biochemistry
Alpha subunit of Escherichia coli ATP synthase was expressed with a C-terminal 6-His tag and purified. Pure alpha was monomeric, was competent in nucleotide binding, and had normal N-terminal sequence. In F1 subunit dissociation/reassociation experiments it supported full reconstitution of ATPase, and reassociated complexes were able to bind to F1-depleted membranes with restoration of ATP-driven proton pumping. Therefore interaction between the stator delta subunit and the N-terminal residue 1-22 region of alpha occurred normally when pure alpha was complexed with other F1 subunits. On the other hand, three different types of experiments showed that no interaction occurred between pure delta and isolated alpha subunit. Unlike in F1, the N-terminal region of isolated alpha was not susceptible to trypsin cleavage. Therefore, during assembly of ATP synthase, complexation of alpha subunit with other F1 subunits is prerequisite for delta subunit binding to the N-terminal region of alpha. We suggest that the N-terminal 1-22 residues of alpha are sequestered in isolated alpha until released by binding of beta to alpha subunit. This prevents 1/1 delta/alpha complexes from forming and provides a satisfactory explanation of the stoichiometry of one delta per three alpha seen in the F1 sector of ATP synthase, assuming that steric hindrance prevents binding of more than one delta to the alpha3/beta3 hexagon. The cytoplasmic fragment of the b subunit (bsol) did not bind to isolated alpha. It might also be that complexation of alpha with beta subunits is prerequisite for direct binding of stator b subunit to the F1-sector.