Ligand-binding studies with labelled triethyltin on yeast mitochondrial membranes showed the presence of high-affinity sites (KD = 0.6 micronM; 1.2 +/- 0.3 nmol/mg of protein) and low-affinity sites (KD less than 45 micronM; 70 +/- 20 nmol/mg of protein). The dissociation constant of the high-affinity site is in good agreement with the concentration of triethyltin required for inhibition of mitochondrial ATPase (adenosine triphosphatase) and oxidative phosphorylation. The high-affinity site is not competed for by oligomycin or venturicidin, indicating that triethyltin reacts at a different site from these inhibitors of oxidative phosphorylation. Fractionation of the mitochondrial membrane shows a specific association of the high-affinity sites with the ATP synthase complex. During purification of ATP synthase (oligomycin-sensitive ATPase) there is a 5-6-fold purification of oligomycin- and triethyltin-sensitive ATPase activity concomitant with a 7-9-fold increase in high-affinity triethyltin-binding sites. The purified yeast oligomycin-sensitive ATPase complex contains approximately six binding sites for triethyltin/mol of enzyme complex. It is concluded that specific triethyltin-binding sites are components of the ATP synthase complex, which accounts for the specific inhibition of ATPase and oxidative phosphorylation by triethyltin.

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