High-resolution crystallographic studies of a number of inhibited forms of bovine F1-ATPase have identified four independent types of inhibitory site: the catalytic site, the aurovertin B-binding site, the efrapeptin-binding site and the site to which the natural inhibitor protein IF1 binds. Hitherto, the binding sites for other inhibitors, such as polyphenolic phytochemicals, non-peptidyl lipophilic cations and amphiphilic peptides, have remained undefined. By employing multiple inhibition analysis, we have identified the binding sites for these compounds. Several of them bind to the known inhibitory sites. The amphiphilic peptides melittin and synthetic analogues of the mitochondrial import pre-sequence of yeast cytochrome oxidase subunit IV appear to mimic the natural inhibitor protein, and the polyphenolic phytochemical inhibitors resveratrol and piceatannol compete for the aurovertin B-binding site (or sites). The non-peptidyl lipophilic cation rhodamine 6G acts at a separate unidentified site, indicating that there are at least five inhibitory sites in the F1-ATPase. Each of the above inhibitors has significantly different activity against the bacterial Bacillus PS3 α3β3γ subcomplex compared with that observed with bovine F1-ATPase. IF1 does not inhibit the bacterial enzyme, even in the absence of the ε-subunit. An understanding of these inhibitors may enable rational development of therapeutic agents to act as novel antibiotics against bacterial ATP synthases or for the treatment of several disorders linked to the regulation of the ATP synthase, including ischaemia–reperfusion injury and some cancers.

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