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Mechanism of electroneutral sodium/proton antiporter from transition-path shooting

By Kei-ichi Okazaki, David Wöhlert, Judith Warnau, Hendrik Jung, Özkan Yildiz, Werner Kühlbrandt, Gerhard Hummer

Posted 03 Feb 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/538777 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09739-0)

Na+/H+ antiporters exchange sodium ions (Na+) and protons (H+) on opposite sides of lipid membranes, using the gradient of one ion to drive the uphill transport of the other. The electroneutral Na+/H+ antiporter NhaP from archaea Pyrococcus abyssi (PaNhaP) is a functional homolog of the human Na+/H+ exchanger NHE1, which is an important drug target. Here we resolve the Na+ and H+ transport cycle of PaNhaP in continuous and unbiased molecular dynamics trajectories that cover the entire transport cycle. We overcome the enormous time-scale gap between seconds-scale ion exchange and microseconds simulations by transition-path shooting. In this way, we selectively capture the rare events in which the six-helix-bundle transporter domain spontaneously moves up and down to shuttle protons and ions across the membrane. The simulations reveal two hydrophobic gates above and below the ion-binding sites that open and close in response to the bundle motion. Weakening the outside gate by mutagenesis makes the transporter faster, suggesting that the gate balances competing demands of fidelity and efficiency. Transition-path sampling and a committor-based reaction coordinate optimization identify the essential motions and interactions that realize conformational alternation between the two access states in transporter function.

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