• Structural and functional characterization of the V-ATPase membrane sector

      Couoh-Carde, Sergio J. (2017)
      The vacuolar ATPase (V1VO-ATPase, V-ATPase) is a H+-pump involved in the acidification of organelles in eukaryotes. Under certain physiological conditions, the VATPase disassociates into an inactive soluble ATPase sector (V1) and a membrane sector (VO) that is impermeable to protons. Due to the lack of detailed structural and functional information, the auto-inhibition mechanism of VO is not well understood. Although the V-ATPase shares a similar structure and rotary catalysis mechanism with the F- and AATPases, V-ATPase’s increased structural complexity and unique mode of regulation suggest other functions beyond its canonical proton pumping. We purified Vo and Vo sub-complexes for structural and functional characterization. First, our ~18 Å cryo-EM model of Vo suggests that c-ring (c8c’c’’) is partially surrounded by the C-terminal membrane integral portion of subunit a (aCT). On the other hand, the soluble N-terminal portion of subunit a (aNT) interacts with subunit d that sits atop of the c-ring. Selective removal of subunit d (VoΔd) did not allow passive proton translocation. Second, the c-ring was isolated and its X-ray crystal structure was solved at ~4 Å resolution. Two c-rings interact to form a gap-junction like structure. The presence of c’’ disrupts the intrinsic and global symmetry of the c8c’ sub-complex, constituting a kinetic barrier during c-ring axial rotation. Third, we discovered that c-ring can act as a large-conductance ion-channel independently from its canonical function in proton pumping. Our biophysical, biochemical, and functional data suggest that exquisite kinetic barriers play a primary role in the auto-inhibition of Vo, and that Vo may have noncanonical functions in intercellular communication.