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Biochemistry. 2001 Jan 23;40(3):769-76.

Engineering conformational flexibility in the lactose permease of Escherichia coli: use of glycine-scanning mutagenesis to rescue mutant Glu325-->Asp.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Physiology and of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095-1662, USA.


Lactose/H(+) symport by lactose permease of Escherichia coli involves interactions between four irreplaceable charged residues in transmembrane helices that play essential roles in H(+) translocation and coupling [Glu269 (helix VIII) with His322 (helix X) and Arg302 (helix IX) with Glu325 (helix X)], as well as Glu126 (helix IV) and Arg144 (helix V) which are obligatory for substrate binding. The conservative mutation Glu325-->Asp causes a 10-fold reduction in the V(max) for active lactose transport and markedly decreased lactose-induced H(+) influx with no effect on exchange or counterflow, neither of which involves H(+) symport. Thus, shortening the side chain may weaken the interaction of the carboxyl group at position 325 with the guanidino group of Arg302. Therefore, Gly-scanning mutagenesis of helices IX and X and the intervening loop was employed systematically with mutant Glu325-->Asp in an effort to rescue function by introducing conformational flexibility between the two helices. Five Gly replacement mutants in the Glu325-->Asp background are identified that exhibit significantly higher transport activity. Furthermore, mutant Val316-->Gly/Glu325-->Asp catalyzes active transport, efflux, and lactose-induced H(+) influx with kinetic properties approaching those of wild-type permease. It is proposed that introduction of conformational flexibility at the interface between helices IX and X improves juxtapositioning between Arg302 and Asp325 during turnover, thereby allowing more effective deprotonation of the permease on the inner surface of the membrane [Sahin-Tóth, M., Karlin, A., and Kaback, H. R. (2000) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 97, 10729-10732.

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