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    ABSTRACT: Na+,K+/H+ antiporters are H+-coupled cotransporters that are crucial for cellular homeostasis. Populus euphratica, a well-known tree halophyte, contains six Na+/H+ antiporter genes (PeNHX1-6) that have been shown to function in salt tolerance. However, the catalytic mechanisms governing their ion transport remain largely unknown. Using the crystal structure of the Na+/H+ antiporter from the Escherichia coli (EcNhaA) as a template, we built the three-dimensional structure of PeNHX3 from P. euphratica. The PeNHX3 model displays the typical TM4-TM11 assembly that is critical for ion binding and translocation. The PeNHX3 structure follows the 'positive-inside' rule and exhibits a typical physicochemical property of the transporter proteins. Four conserved residues, including Tyr149, Asn187, Asp188, and Arg356, are indentified in the TM4-TM11 assembly region of PeNHX3. Mutagenesis analysis showed that these reserved residues were essential for the function of PeNHX3: Asn187 and Asp188 (forming a ND motif) controlled ion binding and translocation, and Tyr149 and Arg356 compensated helix dipoles in the TM4-TM11 assembly. PeNHX3 mediated Na+, K+ and Li+ transport in a yeast growth assay. Domain-switch analysis shows that TM11 is crucial to Li+ transport. The novel features of PeNHX3 in ion binding and translocation are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    ABSTRACT: The existence of water in extrasolar planetary systems is of great interest because it constrains the potential for habitable planets and life. We have identified a circumstellar disk that resulted from the destruction of a water-rich and rocky extrasolar minor planet. The parent body formed and evolved around a star somewhat more massive than the Sun, and the debris now closely orbits the white dwarf remnant of the star. The stellar atmosphere is polluted with metals accreted from the disk, including oxygen in excess of that expected for oxide minerals, indicating that the parent body was originally composed of 26% water by mass. This finding demonstrates that water-bearing planetesimals exist around A- and F-type stars that end their lives as white dwarfs.
    Preview · Article · Oct 2013 · Science
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    ABSTRACT: Most supermassive black holes (SMBHs) are accreting at very low levels and are difficult to distinguish from the galaxy centers where they reside. Our own Galaxy's SMBH provides a uniquely instructive exception, and we present a close-up view of its quiescent X-ray emission based on 3 mega-second of Chandra observations. Although the X-ray emission is elongated and aligns well with a surrounding disk of massive stars, we can rule out a concentration of low-mass coronally active stars as the origin of the emission based on the lack of predicted Fe Kalpha emission. The extremely weak H-like Fe Kalpha line further suggests the presence of an outflow from the accretion flow onto the SMBH. These results provide important constraints for models of the prevalent radiatively inefficient accretion state.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Science
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