Nav: Home

Structure of a mitochondrial ATP synthase

November 18, 2019

ATP synthase is a universal molecular machine for energy conversion. By coupling to cellular respiration in mitochondria, it catalyzes conversion of chemical energy of cells. Mitochondrial ATP synthase is composed of dimers that, when come together, form membrane curvature that is essential for efficient energy conversion. While the mitochondrial signature lipid cardiolipin and its interactions with proteins are believed to contribute to this process, it was not directly visualized before. In addition, it was unclear to what extent the ATP synthase has diverged across different species.

Alexander Mühleip from Amunts lab used the single-cell photosynthetic organism Euglena gracilis, which belongs to a phylum that also includes human parasites, to extract the mitochondrial ATP synthase. Its structure was then determined using cryo-EM, allowing the reconstruction of the atomic model. The high resolution of the cryo-EM density map allowed identification of 29 different protein subunits and 25 cardiolipin molecules. Some of the cardiolipins appear to modulate the critical channel for proton transfer that fuels the machine, which is the first evidence for their direct involvement.

The model shows that the Euglena mitochondrial ATP synthase is highly divergent with 13 protein subunits being specific to this system. The new subunits contribute to the formation of dimers glued by lipids, providing experimental evidence that the key functional property of membrane curvature induction has likely occurred independently in evolution. Furthermore, a membrane-embedded subcomplex was found at the periphery of the ATP synthase, displacing the membrane. Sarah McComas performed molecular dynamics simulations supporting that the newly found subcomplex contributes to the membrane curvature.

The atomic model of the mitochondrial ATP synthase with native lipids provides a new perspective for its functional analysis. The different type of molecular organization of this essential energy production machinery re-establishes the defining features of the complex and opens the door for reconstructing the evolution of the mitochondrial ATP synthase. Finally, identified similarities to the human parasites provide a new perspective for a therapeutic exploration.

Amunts' lab page
-end-
About SciLifeLab

SciLifeLab is a joint enterprise of Swedish universities, that aims to provide frontline technologies for the Swedish academic community and develop cutting-edge research programs. Situated on the expanding Stockholm biomedical campus, SciLifeLab offers the opportunity to work in an internationally competitive and synergistic environment. The center combines technical expertise with advanced knowledge of translational medicine and molecular bioscience.

Science For Life Laboratory

Related Evolution Articles:

Genome evolution goes digital
Dr. Alan Herbert from InsideOutBio describes ground-breaking research in a paper published online by Royal Society Open Science.
Paleontology: Experiments in evolution
A new find from Patagonia sheds light on the evolution of large predatory dinosaurs.
A window into evolution
The C4 cycle supercharges photosynthesis and evolved independently more than 62 times.
Is evolution predictable?
An international team of scientists working with Heliconius butterflies at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama was faced with a mystery: how do pairs of unrelated butterflies from Peru to Costa Rica evolve nearly the same wing-color patterns over and over again?
Predicting evolution
A new method of 're-barcoding' DNA allows scientists to track rapid evolution in yeast.
Insect evolution: Insect evolution
Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have shown that the incidence of midge and fly larvae in amber is far higher than previously thought.
Evolution of aesthetic dentistry
One of the main goals of dental treatment is to mimic teeth and design smiles in the most natural and aesthetic manner, based on the individual and specific needs of the patient.
An evolution in the understanding of evolution
In an open-source research paper, a UVA Engineering professor and her former Ph.D. student share a new, more accurate method for modeling evolutionary change.
Chemical evolution -- One-pot wonder
Before life, there was RNA: Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich show how the four different letters of this genetic alphabet could be created from simple precursor molecules on early Earth -- under the same environmental conditions.
Catching evolution in the act
Researchers have produced some of the first evidence that shows that artificial selection and natural selection act on the same genes, a hypothesis predicted by Charles Darwin in 1859.
More Evolution News and Evolution Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.