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F1Fo ATP synthase functions as a biological rotary generator that makes a major contribution to cellular energy production. It comprises two molecular motors coupled together by a central and a peripheral stalk. Proton flow through the Fo motor generates rotation of the central stalk, inducing conformational changes in the F1 motor that catalyzes ATP production. Here we present nine cryo-EM structures of E. coli ATP synthase to 3.1-3.4 Å resolution, in four discrete rotational sub-states, which provide a comprehensive structural model for this widely studied bacterial molecular machine. We observe torsional flexing of the entire complex and a rotational sub-step of Fo associated with long-range conformational changes that indicates how this flexibility accommodates the mismatch between the 3- and 10-fold symmetries of the F1 and Fo motors. We also identify density likely corresponding to lipid molecules that may contribute to the rotor/stator interaction within the Fo motor.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date