The vacuolar H(+)-ATPase (V-ATPase), a multisubunit, adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-driven proton pump, is essential for numerous cellular processes in all eukaryotes investigated so far. While structure and catalytic mechanism are similar to the evolutionarily related F-type ATPases, the V-ATPase's main function is to establish an electrochemical proton potential across membranes using ATP hydrolysis. The holoenzyme is formed by two subcomplexes, the transmembraneous V(0) and the cytoplasmic V(1) complexes. Sequencing of the whole genome of the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia enabled the identification of virtually all the genes encoding V-ATPase subunits in this organism and the studying of the localization of the enzyme and roles in membrane trafficking and osmoregulation. Surprisingly, the number of V-ATPase genes in this free-living protozoan is strikingly higher than in any other species previously studied. Especially abundant are V(0)-a-subunits with as many as 17 encoding genes. This abundance creates the possibility of forming a large number of different V-ATPase holoenzymes by combination and has functional consequences by differential targeting to various organelles.
- protein subunits
- vacuolar proton-translocating ATPases