The Tyr residue in the mobile loop region of the soluble, domain I polypeptide (called Ths) of the proton-translocating transhydrogenase from Rhodospirillum rubrum has been substituted by Asn and by Phe. The recombinant proteins were expressed at high levels in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. The two well defined resonances at 6.82 and 7.12ppm, observed in the one-dimensional proton NMR spectrum of wild-type protein, and previously attributed to the Tyr residue, were absent in both mutants. In the Tyr235 --> Phe mutant Ths, they were replaced by two new resonances at 7.26 and 7.33 ppm, characteristic of a Phe residue. In both mutants, narrow resonances attributable to Met residues (and in the Tyr235 --> Phe mutant, resonances attributable to Ala residues) were shifted relative to the wild type, but other features in the NMR spectra were unaffected. The conformational dynamics of the mobile loop closure in response to nucleotide binding by the protein were altered in the two mutants. The fluorescence emission from Trp72 was unaffected by both Tyr substitutions, and the fluorescence was still quenched by NADH. The mutant Ths proteins bound to chromatophore membranes depleted of their native Ths with undiminished affinity. In these reconstituted systems, the Km values for thio-NADP+ and NADH, during light-driven transhydrogenation, were similar to those of wild-type, but the kcat values were decreased about 2-fold. In reverse transhydrogenation, the Kmvalues for NADPH were slightly decreased in the mutants relative to wild-type, but those for acetyl pyridine adenine dinucleotide were increased about 10- and 13-fold, respectively, and the kcat values were decreased about 2- and 5-fold, respectively, in the Tyr235 --> Phe and Tyr235 --> Asn mutants. It is concluded that Tyr235 may contribute to the process of nucleotide binding and that substitution of this residue prevents proper functioning of the mobile loop in catalysis.