ATPases are important molecular machines that convert the chemical energies stored in ATP to mechanical actions within the cell. ATPases are among the most abundant proteins with diverse functions involved in almost every cellular pathway. The well characterised ATPases include the various motor proteins responsible for cargo transfers, cell motilities, and muscle contractions; the protein degradation machinery - the proteasome; the ATP synthase, F-ATPase; and the chaperone systems. Other ATPases include DNA helicases and DNA replication complex; proteins responsible for protein / complex disassembly; and certain gene regulators. It is beyond the scope of this review to cover the complete range of ATPases. Instead, we will focus on a few representative ATPases, chosen based on their diverse mechanisms and properties. Furthermore, this review is by no means trying to cover comprehensively the literature for each ATPase nor the historical aspects in each field. We will focus on describing the various techniques being employed to derive the mechanisms and properties of the chosen ATPases. Among them, high and low resolution structural studies combined with biochemical assays seem to be the dominant technical advances adapted to reveal mechanisms for most of the ATPases except the bacterial sigma54 activators, whose mechanism of action is mostly derived from large amount of biochemical studies. A number of them, especially the F-ATPase and motor proteins, have been studied successfully by various single molecule and imaging techniques. We will therefore discuss them in greater details in order to describe the wide range techniques being utilised.
atpases, motor proteins, cargo transfers, gene regulators
Centre for Structural Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, Imperial College London, FlowersBuilding, South Kensington London SW7 2AZ, UK.