We studied the effect of the delta subunit of the Escherichia coli F1 ATPase on the proton permeability of the F0 proton channel synthesized and assembled in vivo. Membranes isolated from an unc deletion strain carrying a plasmid containing the genes for the F0 subunits and the delta subunit were significantly more permeable to protons than membranes isolated from the same strain carrying a plasmid containing the genes for the F0 subunits alone. This increased proton permeability could be blocked by treatment with either dicyclohexyl-carbodiimide or purified F1, both of which block proton conduction through the F0. After reconstitution with purified F1 in vitro, both membrane preparations could couple proton pumping to ATP hydrolysis. These results demonstrate that an interaction between the delta subunit and the F0 during synthesis and assembly produces a significant change in the proton permeability of the F0 proton channel
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