Crystal Structure of SemiSWEET

SWEET family proteins mediate sugar transport across biological membranes and play crucial roles in plants and animals. The SWEETs and their bacterial homologues, the SemiSWEETs, are related to the PQ-loop family, which is characterized by highly conserved proline and glutamine residues (PQ-loop motif). Although the structures of the bacterial SemiSWEETs were recently reported, the conformational transition and the significance of the conserved motif in the transport cycle have remained elusive. Here we report crystal structures of SemiSWEET from Escherichia coli, in the both inward-open and outward-open states. A structural comparison revealed that SemiSWEET undergoes an intramolecular conformational change in each protomer. The conserved PQ-loop motif serves as a molecular hinge that enables the 'binder clip-like' motion of SemiSWEET. The present work provides the framework for understanding the overall transport cycles of SWEET and PQ-loop family proteins.