CF0, the proton channel of chloroplast ATP synthase. After removal of CF1 it appears in two forms with highly different proton conductance

H Lill, Wolfgang Junge

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The discharge of the flash-induced transmembrane voltage through the exposed proton channel, CF0, of the chloroplast ATP synthase, CF0CF1 was investigated. EDTA treatment of thylakoid membranes exposed approximately 50% of total CF0 by removal of the CF1 counterparts. This greatly accelerated the decay of the transmembrane voltage, as was apparent from electrochromic-absorption changes of intrinsic pigments and by pH-indicating-absorption changes of added dyes. Two decay processes were discernible, one rapid with a typical half-decay time of 2 ms, and a slower one with a half-decay time variable between 20-100 ms. Both were sensitive to CF0 inhibitors, but only the rapid decay process was also inhibited by added CF1. CF1 was effective in surprisingly small amounts, which were significantly lower than those previously removed by EDTA treatment. This finding corroborated our previous conclusion that the rapid decay of the transmembrane voltage was attributable to only a few high-conductance channels among many CF0 molecules, typically in the order of one channel/CF1-depleted EDTA vesicle. Inhibition of photophosphorylation in control thylakoids was measured as function of the concentration of CF0 inhibitors. It was compared with the inhibition of proton conduction through exposed CF0 in EDTA vesicles. Photophosphorylation and proton conduction by the high-conductance form of CF0 were inhibited by the same low inhibitor concentrations. This suggested that the high-conducting form of CF0 with a time-averaged single-channel conductance of 1 pS [Lill, H., Althoff, G. & Junge, W. (1987) J. Membrane Biol. 98, 69-78] represented the proton channel in the integral enzyme, which acted as a low-impedance access from the thylakoid lumen to the coupling site in CF0CF1. The slow decay process was attributed to a majority of low-conductance CF0 channels, i.e. about 50 molecules/vesicle. The conductance of these channels was more than 100-fold lower and they did not compete with the very few highly conducting channels for rebinding of added CF1. The low proton conduction of the majority of exposed CF0 molecules, possibly due to a structural rearrangement, may be protecting the thylakoid membrane against rapid energy dissipation caused by accidental loss of CF1. It may also explain the low single-channel conductance of bacterial F0 reported in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-67
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 1989


  • Binding Sites
  • Catalysis
  • Chloroplasts
  • Edetic Acid
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Fabaceae
  • Ion Channels
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases
  • Protons
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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