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Title: Key computational findings reveal proton transfer as driving the functional cycle in the phosphate transporter PiPT

Phosphate is an indispensable metabolite in a wide variety of cells and is involved in nucleotide and lipid synthesis, signaling, and chemical energy storage. Proton-coupled phosphate transporters within the major facilitator family are crucial for phosphate uptake in plants and fungi. Similar proton-coupled phosphate transporters have been found in different protozoan parasites that cause human diseases, in breast cancer cells with elevated phosphate demand, in osteoclast-like cells during bone reabsorption, and in human intestinal Caco2BBE cells for phosphate homeostasis. However, the mechanism of proton-driven phosphate transport remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate in a eukaryotic, high-affinity phosphate transporter fromPiriformospora indica(PiPT) that deprotonation of aspartate 324 (D324) triggers phosphate release. Quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics molecular dynamics simulations combined with free energy sampling have been employed here to identify the proton transport pathways from D324 upon the transition from the occluded structure to the inward open structure and phosphate release. The computational insights so gained are then corroborated by studies of D45N and D45E amino acid substitutions via mutagenesis experiments. Our findings confirm the function of the structurally predicted cytosolic proton exit tunnel and suggest insights into the role of the titratable phosphate substrate.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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Article No. e2101932118
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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