Journal of molecular biology
Archaeal ATP synthase (A-ATPase) is the functional homolog to the ATP synthase found in bacteria, mitochondria and chloroplasts, but the enzyme is structurally more related to the proton-pumping vacuolar ATPase found in the endomembrane system of eukaryotes. We have cloned, overexpressed and characterized the stator-forming subunits E and H of the A-ATPase from the thermoacidophilic Archaeon, Thermoplasma acidophilum. Size exclusion chromatography, CD, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopic experiments indicate that both polypeptides have a tendency to form dimers and higher oligomers in solution. However, when expressed together or reconstituted, the two individual polypeptides interact with high affinity to form a stable heterodimer. Analyses by gel filtration chromatography and analytical ultracentrifugation show the heterodimer to have an elongated shape, and the preparation to be monodisperse. Thermal denaturation analyses by CD and differential scanning calorimetry revealed the more cooperative unfolding transitions of the heterodimer in comparison to those of the individual polypeptides. The data are consistent with the EH heterodimer forming the peripheral stalk(s) in the A-ATPase in a fashion analogous to that of the related vacuolar ATPase.