MalFGK2 is an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter that mediates the uptake of maltose/maltodextrins intoEscherichia coli. A periplasmic maltose-binding protein (MBP) delivers maltose to the transmembrane subunits (MalFG) and stimulates the ATPase activity of the cytoplasmic nucleotide-binding subunits (MalK dimer). This MBP-stimulated ATPase activity is independent of maltose for purified transporter in detergent micelles. However, when the transporter is reconstituted in membrane bilayers, only the liganded form of MBP efficiently stimulates its activity. To investigate the mechanism of maltose stimulation, electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to study the interactions between the transporter and MBP in nanodiscs and in detergent. We found that full engagement of both lobes of maltose-bound MBP unto MalFGK2 is facilitated by nucleotides and stabilizes a semi-open MalK dimer. Maltose-bound MBP promotes the transition to the semi-open state of MalK when the transporter is in the membrane, whereas such regulation does not require maltose in detergent. We suggest that stabilization of the semi-open MalK2 conformation by maltose-bound MBP is key to the coupling of maltose transport to ATP hydrolysisin vivo, because it facilitates the progression of the MalK dimer from the open to the semi-open conformation, from which it can proceed to hydrolyze ATP.
The maltose ABC transporter is activated by maltose-binding protein (MBP) and its substrate. Full docking of maltose-bound MBP is facilitated by nucleotides and stabilizes a semi-open state of the ABC dimer in lipid environments. This conformational state is key to the coupling of maltose transport to ATP hydrolysis.