Biology | Chemistry
In spite of their complete lack of any structural features that characterize membrane proteins, cytosolic nucleoside-diphosphate kinases (NDPKs) have been found repeatedly to associate with membranes. In some instances the recruitment of cytosolic NDPKs to membranes was attributed to interactions with peripheral or integral membrane proteins, but in many cases the mechanism underlying the association of NDPKs with membranes remained unknown. We show here that cytosolic NDPKs bind directly to membrane lipids in a dynamic process that is controlled by its substrates, nucleoside tri- and diphosphates, and can be fully reconstituted with chemically defined, protein-free phospholipids and recombinant NDPK, or with purified NDPK. Our results uncover a novel mechanism for the reversible targeting of soluble NDPKs to membranes, where they may act as a reservoir of high energy phosphate, supporting the operation of membrane-based processes that utilize nucleotides other than ATP, such as intracellular traffic and phospholipid biosynthesis.