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Eur J Biochem. 2000 Jan;267(1):79-84.

Oriented channels reveal asymmetric energy barriers for sugar translocation through maltoporin of Escherichia coli.

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Department of Microbiology, Biozentrum, University of Basel, Switzerland.


Sugar transport through maltoporin of Escherichia coli was investigated. This protein facilitates maltooligosaccharide translocation via a binding site in the channel. Because incorporation of the protein into the bilayer results in randomly orientated channels, we re-examined the postulated symmetric translocation model by reconstitution of maltoporin under an externally applied field. Upon binding of bacteriophage lambda, which exploit surface-exposed loops of maltoporin as the receptor, sugar permeation, but not the ion current, was blocked. Thus using the phage-to-probe orientation we were able to show that the channels were approximately 80% directionally inserted into the bilayer. Moreover, asymmetry of the channel was revealed because sugar entrance through the 'open' periplasmic side of maltoporin was similarly reduced. Here a new asymmetrical two-barrier model is presented. Based on liposome-swelling assays and current-fluctuation analysis we conclude that the periplasmic side of the porin shows a two- to threefold higher energy barrier than the extracellular loop-side of the channels.

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