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The pathogenic MT-ATP6 m.8851T>C mutation prevents proton movements within the n-side hydrophilic cleft of the membrane domain of ATP synthase

Kucharczyk, Roza, Dautant, Alain, Gombeau, Kewin, Godard, François, Tribouillard-Tanvier, Déborah, di Rago, Jean-Paul
Biochimica et biophysica acta 2019 v.1860 no.7 pp. 562-572
H+/K+-exchanging ATPase, H-transporting ATP synthase, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, adenosine triphosphate, arginine, childhood, hydrophilicity, lysine, methionine, mitochondria, mitochondrial genes, mitochondrial membrane, mutants, mutation, nervous system diseases, protons, tryptophan, yeasts
Dozens of pathogenic mutations have been localized in the mitochondrial gene (MT-ATP6) that encodes the subunit a of ATP synthase. The subunit a together with a ring of identical subunits c moves protons across the mitochondrial inner membrane coupled to rotation of the subunit c-ring and ATP synthesis. One of these mutations, m.8851T>C, has been associated with bilateral striatal lesions of childhood (BSLC), a group of rare neurological disorders characterized by symmetric degeneration of the corpus striatum. It converts a highly conserved tryptophan residue into arginine at position 109 of subunit a (aW109R). We previously showed that an equivalent thereof in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (aW126R) severely impairs by an unknown mechanism the functioning of ATP synthase without any visible assembly/stability defect. Herein we show that ATP synthase function was recovered to varying degree by replacing the mutant arginine residue 126 with methionine, lysine or glycine or by replacing with methionine an arginine residue present at position 169 of subunit a (aR169). In recently described atomic structures of yeast ATP synthase, aR169 is at the center of a hydrophilic cleft along which protons are transported from the subunit c-ring to the mitochondrial matrix, in the proximity of the two residues known from a long time to be essential to the activity of FO (aR176 and cE59). We provide evidence that the aW126R change is responsible for electrostatic and steric hindrance that enables aR169 to engage in a salt bridge with cE59. As a result, aR176 cannot interact properly with cE5 and ATP synthase fails to effectively move protons across the mitochondrial membrane. In addition to insight into the pathogenic mechanism induced by the m.8851T>C mutation, the present study brings interesting information about the role of specific residues of subunit a in the energy-transducing activity of ATP synthase.