Small substrate transport and mechanism of a molybdate ATP binding cassette transporter in a lipid environment

Austin J. Rice, Alistair Harrison, Frances J.D. Alvarez, Amy L. Davidson, Heather W. Pinkett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Embedded in the plasma membrane of all bacteria, ATP binding cassette (ABC) importers facilitate the uptake of several vital nutrients and cofactors. The ABC transporter, MolBC-A, imports molybdate by passing substrate from the binding protein MolA to a membrane-spanning translocation pathway of MolB. To understand the mechanism of transport in the biological membrane as a whole, the effects of the lipid bilayer on transport needed to be addressed. Continuous wave-electron paramagnetic resonance and in vivo molybdate uptake studies were used to test the impact of the lipid environment on the mechanism and function of MolBC-A. Working with the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae, we found that MolBC-A functions as a low affinity molybdate transporter in its native environment. In periods of high extracellular molybdate concentration, H. influenzae makes use of parallel molybdate transport systems (MolBC-A and ModBC-A) to take up a greater amount of molybdate than a strain with ModBC-A alone. In addition, the movement of the translocation pathway in response to nucleotide binding and hydrolysis in a lipid environment is conserved when compared with in-detergent analysis. However, electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy indicates that a lipid environment restricts the flexibility of the MolBC translocation pathway. By combining continuous wave-electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy and substrate uptake studies, we reveal details of molybdate transport and the logistics of uptake systems that employ multiple transporters for the same substrate, offering insight into the mechanisms of nutrient uptake in bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15005-15013
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number21
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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