The distance between thiol groups in the γ subunit of coupling factor 1 influences the proton permeability of thylakoid membranes

Document Type


Publication Date



Spinach chloroplast thylakoids treated in the light with bifunctional maleimides were previously shown to be uncoupled. The increase in proton permeability by these reagents is caused by the cross-linking of an accessible group on the γ subunit of coupling factor 1 (CF1) to a group that becomes exposed to reaction with maleimides only when the thylakoids are energized. In this study, several bifunctional maleimides, including o-, m-, and p-phenylenebismaleimides, 2,3- and 1,5-naphthalenebismaleimides, and azophenylbismaleimide, were tested for their ability to form cross-links and to uncouple photophosphorylation. These reagents form cross-links from about 6 to 19 Å. Each reagent was found to form cross-links in the light and to inhibit photophosphorylation. However, the effectiveness of these compounds as uncouplers decreased as the distance between the cross-linked groups increased, indicating that the distance between two groups on the γ subunit of CF1 can regulate proton flux through the membrane. Monofunctional maleimides cause a light-dependent energy transfer type of inhibition of photophosphorylation. Although this inhibition was correlated to the reaction of the maleimide with a group on the γ subunit that is exposed only in energized thylakoids, the accessible group on this subunit was also modified by the reagent. However, we show here that the accessible group plays no role in the inhibition of photophosphorylation. This group may be blocked by incubating thylakoids in the dark with methyl methanethiolsulfonate. The light-dependent inhibition of photophosphorylation by N-ethylmaleimide was unaffected by this treatment or by the subsequent removal of the methanethiol moiety from the accessible group. © 1982 Plenum Publishing Corporation.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes

First Page


Last Page


This document is currently not available here.