Structural Evolution of the Glacier Ice Worm Fo ATP Synthase Complex

Shirley A. Lang, Patrick McIlroy, Daniel H. Shain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The segmented annelid worm, Mesenchytraeus solifugus, is a permanent resident of temperate, maritime glaciers in the Pacific northwestern region of North America, displaying atypically high intracellular ATP levels which have been linked to its unusual ability to thrive in hydrated glacier ice. We have shown previously that ice worms contain a highly basic, carboxy terminal extension on their ATP6 regulatory subunit, likely acquired by horizontal gene transfer from a microbial dietary source. Here we examine the full complement of F1F0 ATP synthase structural subunits with attention to non-conservative, ice worm-specific structural modifications. Our genomics analyses and molecular models identify putative proton shuttling domains on either side of the F0 hemichannel, which predictably function to enhance proton flow across the mitochondrial membrane. Other components of the ice worm ATP synthase complex have remained largely unchanged in the context of Metazoan evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-159
Number of pages8
JournalProtein Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


  • ATP6 subunit
  • Cold adaptation
  • Energy
  • Histidine
  • Mitochondria


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