ATP synthases-Structure of the F1-moiety and its relationship to function and mechanism

Xavier Ysern, L. Mario Amzel, Peter L Pedersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A great deal of progress has been made in understanding both the structure and the mechanism of F1-ATPase. The primary structure is now fully known for at least five species. Sequence comparison between chloroplast, photobacteria, aerobic bacteria, and mitochondrial representatives allow us to infer more general functional relationships and evolutionary trends. Although the F1 moiety is the most studied segment of the H+-ATPase complex, there is not a full understanding of the mechanism and regulation of its hydrolytic activity. The β subunit is now known to contain one and probably two nucleotide binding domains, one of which is believed to be a catalytic site. Recently, two similar models have been proposed to attempt to describe the "active" part of the β subunits. These models are mainly an attempt to use the structure of adenylate kinase to represent a more general working model for nucleotide binding phosphotransferases. Labelling experiments seem to indicate that several critical residues outside the region described by the "adenylate kinase" part of this model are also actively involved in the ATPase activity. New models will have to be introduced to include these regions. Finally, it seems that a consensus has been reached with regard to a broad acceptance of the asymmetric structure of the F1-moiety. In addition, recent experimental evidence points toward the presence of nonequivalent subunits to describe the functional activity of the F1-ATPase. A summary diagram of the conformational and binding states of the enzyme including the nonequivalent β subunit is presented. Additional research is essential to establish the role of the minor subunits-and of the asymmetry they introduce in F1-on the physiological function of the enzyme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-450
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1988


  • ATP synthase
  • ATPase
  • F-ATPase
  • bioenergetics
  • mitochondria
  • oxidative phosphorylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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