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Protein Eng. 2000 Jul;13(7):491-500.

Effects of pore mutations and permeant ion concentration on the spontaneous gating activity of OmpC porin.

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Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204-5513, USA.


Porins are trimers of beta-barrels that form channels for ions and other hydrophilic solutes in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. The X-ray structures of OmpF and PhoE show that each monomeric pore is constricted by an extracellular loop that folds into the channel vestibule, a motif that is highly conserved among bacterial porins. Electrostatic calculations have suggested that the distribution of ionizable groups at the constriction zone (or eyelet) may establish an intrinsic transverse electrostatic field across the pore, that is perpendicular to the pore axis. In order to study the role that electrostatic interactions between pore residues may have in porin function, we used spontaneous mutants and engineered site-directed mutants that have an altered charge distribution at the eyelet and compared their electrophysiological behavior with that of wild-type OmpC. We found that some mutations lead to changes in the spontaneous gating activity of OmpC porin channels. Changes in the concentration of permeant ions also altered this activity. These results suggest that the ionic interactions that exist between charged residues at the constriction zone of porin may play a role in the transitions between the channel's closed and open states.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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