The ATP synthase (F1Fo) of Escherichia coli consists of two structurally and functionally distinct entities. The F1 part is composed of five subunits alpha, beta, gamma, delta and epsilon (3:3:1:1:1) and carries the catalytic centres of the enzyme. The membrane-bound Fo complex functions as a proton channel and consists of the three subunits a, b and c (1:2:10 +/- 1). Subunit c (8288 M(r)) exhibits a hairpin-like structure within the membrane. A conserved acidic residue (Asp-61) in the C-terminal hydrophobic segment is absolutely required for proton translocation through Fo, whereas the hydrophilic loop region is necessary for F1 binding. Expression of the chloroplast proteolipid together with subunits a and b of E. coli did not produce an active Fo hybrid complex. Therefore, the construction of hybrid c subunits consisting of parts of the proteolipid from both organisms is in progress to determine those parts of subunit c that are essential for a functional interplay with subunits a and b. Subunit a (30,276 M(r)), which is also involved in proton translocation, is an extremely hydrophobic protein with 5-8 membrane-spanning helices. Studies with alkaline phosphatase fusion proteins resulted in controversial conclusions about the localization of the N and C termini of the protein. A foreign epitope (13 amino acids) has been inserted into the N- or C-terminal region of subunit a without affecting the function of Fo. Binding studies with a monoclonal antibody against this epitope are now under investigation to determine the orientation of subunit a.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

This content is only available via PDF.