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Journal Article

Three-dimensional structure of the ion-coupled transport protein NhaA


Williams,  Karen A.
Department of Structural Biology, Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Max Planck Society;

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Williams, K. A. (2000). Three-dimensional structure of the ion-coupled transport protein NhaA. Nature, 403(6765), 112-115. doi:10.1038/47534.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-B289-5
Ion-coupled membrane-transport proteins, or secondary transporters, comprise a diverse and abundant group of membrane proteins that are found in all organisms. These proteins facilitate solute accumulation and toxin removal against concentration gradients using energy supplied by ion gradients across membranes. NhaA is a Na+/H+ antiporter of relative molecular mass 42,000, which is found in the inner membrane of Escherichia coli, and which has been cloned and characterized. NhaA uses the H+ electrochemical gradient to expel Na+ from the cytoplasm, and functions primarily in the adaptation to high salinity at alkaline pH. Most secondary transporters, including NhaA, are predicted to have 12 transmembrane helices. Here we report the structure of NhaA, at 7 A resolution in the membrane plane and at 14 A vertical resolution, determined from two-dimensional crystals using electron cryo-microscopy. The three-dimensional map of NhaA reveals 12 tilted, bilayer-spanning helices. A roughly linear arrangement of six helices is adjacent to a compact bundle of six helices, with the density for one helix in the bundle not continuous through the membrane. The molecular organization of NhaA represents a new membrane-protein structural motif and offers the first insights into the architecture of an ion-coupled transport protein.