My twenty-five year fascination with membrane ATPases grew out of my experiences in the laboratories of André Jagendorf and Efraim Racker. André introduced me to photosynthetic phosphorylation and Ef, to whose memory this article is dedicated, convinced me that ATPases had much to do with ATP synthesis. Astounding progress has been made in the H+-ATPase field in just two decades. By the early 1970s, it was generally recognized that oxidative and photosynthetic ATP synthesis were catalyzed by membrane enzymes that could act as H+-ATPases and that the common intermediate between electron transport and phosphorylation is the electrochemical proton gradient. At that time, it had been shown that a cation-stimulated ATPase activity was associated with plasma membrane preparations from plant roots. The endomembrane or vacuolar ATPases were unknown. The application of improved biochemical methods for membrane isolation and purification, as well as membrane protein reconstitutions, led rapidly to the conclusion that there are three major classes of membrane H+-ATPases, P, V and F. P-ATPases, which will not be considered further in this article, are phosphorylated during their catalytic cycle and have a much simpler polypeptide composition than V- or F-ATPases. The plasma membrane H+-ATPase of plant, yeasts and fungal cells is one example of this class of enzymes (see Pedersen and Carafoli, 1987, for a comparison of plasma membrane ATPases). Biochemical and gene sequencing analysis have revealed that V- and F-ATPases resemble each other structurally, but are distinct in function and origin. The 'V' stands for vacuolar and the 'F' for F1Fo. F1 was the first factor isolated from bovine heart mitochondria shown to be required for oxidative phosphorylation. Fo was so named because it is a factor that conferred oligomycin sensitivity to soluble F1. Other F-ATPases are often named to indicate their sources. For example, chloroplast F1 is denoted CF1 (see Racker, 1965, for early work on F1). Recent successes in reconstitution of vacuolar ATPase have led to a V1Vo nomenclature for this enzyme as well. The term 'ATP synthase' is now in general use to describe F-ATPases. This term emphasizes the facts that although F-ATPases function to synthesize ATP, they do not catalyze, normally, ATP hydrolysis linked to proton flux. In contrast, V-ATPases are very unlikely to operate as ATP synthases. Thus, F-ATPases are proton gradient consumers, whereas V-ATPases generate proton gradients at the expense of hydrolysis. In this brief review, I will compare the structures of F- and V-ATPases. Also, I give some insight into the mechanisms that help prevent wasteful ATP hydrolysis by the chloroplast ATP synthase (CF1Fo).

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