The vacuolar ATPase (V-ATPase) is a 1MDa transmembrane proton pump that operates via a rotary mechanism fuelled by ATP. Essential for eukaryotic cell homeostasis, it plays central roles in bone remodeling and tumor invasiveness, making it a key therapeutic target. Its importance in arthropod physiology also makes it a promising pesticide target. The major challenge in designing lead compounds against the V-ATPase is its ubiquitous nature, such that any therapeutic must be capable of targeting particular isoforms. Here, we have characterized the binding site on the V-ATPase of pea albumin 1b (PA1b), a small cystine knot protein that shows exquisitely selective inhibition of insect V-ATPases. Electron microscopy shows that PA1b binding occurs across a range of equivalent sites on the c ring of the membrane domain. In the presence of Mg·ATP, PA1b localizes to a single site, distant from subunit a, which is predicted to be the interface for other inhibitors. Photoaffinity labeling studies show radiolabeling of subunits c and e. In addition, weevil resistance to PA1b is correlated with bafilomycin resistance, caused by mutation of subunit c. The data indicate a binding site to which both subunits c and e contribute and inhibition that involves locking the c ring rotor to a static subunit e and not subunit a. This has implications for understanding the V-ATPase mechanism and that of inhibitors with therapeutic or pesticidal potential. It also provides the first evidence for the position of subunit e within the complex.
The enoyl acyl-carrier protein reductase (ENR) enzyme of the apicomplexan parasite family has been intensely studied for antiparasitic drug design for over a decade, with the most potent inhibitors targeting the NAD(+) bound form of the enzyme. However, the higher affinity for the NADH co-factor over NAD(+) and its availability in the natural environment makes the NADH complex form of ENR an attractive target. Herein, we have examined a benzimidazole family of inhibitors which target the NADH form of Francisella ENR, but despite good efficacy against Toxoplasma gondii, the IC50 for T. gondii ENR is poor, with no inhibitory activity at 1 ?M. Moreover similar benzimidazole scaffolds are potent against fungi which lack the ENR enzyme and as such we believe that there may be significant off target effects for this family of inhibitors.
The V-ATPase is a membrane-bound protein complex which pumps protons across the membrane to generate a large proton motive force through the coupling of an ATP-driven 3-stroke rotary motor (V1) to a multistroke proton pump (Vo). This is done with near 100% efficiency, which is achieved in part by flexibility within the central rotor axle and stator connections, allowing the system to flex to minimise the free energy loss of conformational changes during catalysis. We have used electron microscopy to reveal distinctive bending along the V-ATPase complex, leading to angular displacement of the V1 domain relative to the Vo domain to a maximum of ~30°. This has been complemented by elastic network normal mode analysis that shows both flexing and twisting with the compliance being located in the rotor axle, stator filaments, or both. This study provides direct evidence of flexibility within the V-ATPase and by implication in related rotary ATPases, a feature predicted to be important for regulation and their high energetic efficiencies.
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