We discuss our recent results on the Escherichia coli F-ATPase, in particular its catalytic site in the beta subunit and regulation of H+ transport by the gamma subunit. Affinity labelling experiments suggest that beta Lys-155 in the glycine-rich sequence is near the gamma-phosphate moiety of ATP bound at the catalytic site. The enzyme loses activity upon introduction of missense mutations in beta Lys-155 or beta Thr-156 and changes catalytic properties upon introduction of other mutations. By analysis of mutations and their pseudo revertants, residues beta Ser-174, beta Glu-192 and beta Val-198 were found to be located near the glycine-rich sequence. The combined approaches of chemical labelling and genetics have been fruitful in visualizing the structure of the catalytic site. Analysis of mutations in the gamma subunit suggests that this subunit has an essential role in coupling catalysis with proton translocation.

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