The macrolide antibiotic concanamycin A and a designed derivative of 5-(2-indolyl)-2,4-pentadienamide (INDOL0) are potent inhibitors of vacuolar H+-ATPases, with IC50 values in the low and medium nanomolar range, respectively. Interaction of these V-ATPase inhibitors with spin-labeled subunit c in the transmembrane Vo-sector of the ATPase was studied by using the transport-active 16-kDa proteolipid analogue of subunit c from the hepatopancreas of Nephrops norvegicus. Analogous experiments were also performed with vacuolar membranes from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Membranous preparations of the Nephrops 16-kDa proteolipid were spin-labeled either on the unique cysteine C54, with a nitroxyl maleimide, or on the functionally essential glutamate E140, with a nitroxyl analogue of dicyclohexylcarbodiimide (DCCD). These residues were previously demonstrated to be accessible to lipid. Interaction of the inhibitors with these lipid-exposed residues was studied by using both conventional and saturation transfer EPR spectroscopy. Immobilization of the spin-labeled residues by the inhibitors was observed on both the nanosecond and microsecond time scales. The perturbation by INDOL0 was mostly greater than that by concanamycin A. Qualitatively similar but quantitatively greater effects were obtained with the same spin-label reagents and vacuolar membranes in which the Nephrops 16-kDa proteolipid was expressed in place of the native vma3p proteolipid of yeast. The spin-label immobilization corresponds to a direct interaction of the inhibitors with these intramembranous sites on the protein. A mutational analysis on transmembrane segment 4 known to give resistance to concanamycin A also gave partial resistance to INDOL0. The results are consistent with transmembrane segments 2 and 4 of the 16-kDa putative four-helix bundle, and particularly the functionally essential protonation locus, being involved in the inhibitor binding sites. Inhibition of proton transport may also involve immobilization of the overall rotation of the proteolipid subunit assembly.
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