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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Mechanisms of sodium transport in bacteria.

In some bacteria, an Na+ circuit is an important link between exergonic and endergonic membrane reactions. The physiological importance of Na+ ion cycling is described in detail for three different bacteria. Klebsiella pneumoniae fermenting citrate pumps Na+ outwards by oxaloacetate decarboxylase and uses the Na+ ion gradient thus established for citrate uptake. Another possible function of the Na+ gradient may be to drive the endergonic reduction of NAD+ with ubiquinol as electron donor. In Vibrio alginolyticus, an Na+ gradient is established by the NADH: ubiquinone oxidoreductase segment of the respiratory chain; the Na+ gradient drives solute uptake, flagellar motion and possibly ATP synthesis. In Propionigenium modestum, ATP biosynthesis is entirely dependent on the Na+ ion gradient established upon decarboxylation of methylmalonyl-CoA. The three Na(+)-translocating enzymes, oxaloacetate decarboxylase of Klebsiella pneumoniae, NADH: ubiquinone oxidoreductase of Vibrio alginolyticus and ATPase (F1F0) of Propionigenium modestum have been isolated and studied with respect to structure and function. Oxaloacetate decarboxylase consists of a peripheral subunit (alpha), that catalyses the carboxyltransfer from oxaloacetate to enzyme-bound biotin. The subunits beta and gamma are firmly embedded in the membrane and catalyse the decarboxylation of the carboxybiotin enzyme, coupled to Na+ transport. A two-step mechanism has also been demonstrated for the respiratory Na+ pump. Semiquinone radicals are first formed with the electrons from NADH; subsequently, these radicals dismutate in an Na(+)-dependent reaction to quinone and quinol. The ATPase of P. modestum is closely related in its structure to the F1F0 ATPase of E. coli, but uses Na+ as the coupling ion. A specific role of protons in the ATP synthesis mechanism is therefore excluded.[1]


  1. Mechanisms of sodium transport in bacteria. Dimroth, P. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. (1990) [Pubmed]
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