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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Subnanometer resolution cryo-EM structure of a nucleotide free heterodimeric ABC exporter

  • Author(s): Kim, JungMin
  • Wu, Shenping
  • Tomasiak, Thomas
  • Mergel, Claudia
  • Winter, Michael B.
  • Stiller, Sebastian B.
  • Robles-Colmanares, Yaneth
  • Stroud, Robert M.
  • Tampé, Robert
  • Craik, Charles S.
  • Cheng, Yifan
  • et al.

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ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters translocate substrates across cell membranes, using energy harnessed from ATP binding and hydrolysis at their nucleotide binding domains (NBDs)1,2. ABC exporters are present in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes with examples implicated in multidrug resistance of pathogens and cancer cells, as well as in many human diseases3,4. TmrAB is a heterodimeric ABC exporter from the thermophilic Gram-negative eubacterium Thermus thermophilus homologous to various multidrug transporters and containing one degenerate site with a non-catalytic residue next to the Walker B motif5. Here we report a subnanometer resolution structure of detergent-solubilized TmrAB in a nucleotide-free, inward-facing conformation by single particle electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM). The reconstructions clearly resolved characteristic features of ABC transporters, including helices in the transmembrane domain (TMD) and NBDs. A cavity in the TMD is accessible laterally from the cytoplasmic side of the membrane as well as from the cytoplasm, indicating that the transporter lies in an inward-facing open conformation. The two NBDs remain in contact via their C-terminal helices. Furthermore, comparison between our structure and the crystal structures of other ABC transporters suggests a possible trajectory of conformational changes that involves a sliding and rotating motion between the two NBDs during the transition from the inward facing to outward facing conformations.

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