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J Mol Biol. 2002 Jan 25;315(4):561-71.

Manipulating conformational equilibria in the lactose permease of Escherichia coli.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Physiology, Molecular Biology Institute, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1662, USA.


A mechanism proposed for lactose/H(+) symport by the lactose permease of Escherichia coli indicates that lactose permease is protonated prior to ligand binding. Moreover, in the ground state, the symported H(+) is shared between His322 (helix X) and Glu269 (helix VIII), while Glu325 (helix X) is charge-paired with Arg302 (helix IX). Substrate binding at the outer surface between helices IV (Glu126) and V (Arg144, Cys148) induces a conformational change that leads to transfer of the H(+) to Glu325 and reorientation of the binding site to the inner surface. After release of substrate, Glu325 is deprotonated on the inside due to re-juxtapositioning with Arg302. The conservative mutation Glu269-->Asp causes a 50-100-fold decrease in substrate binding affinity and markedly reduced active lactose transport, as well as decreased rates of equilibrium exchange and efflux. Gly-scanning mutagenesis of helix VIII was employed systematically with mutant Glu269-->Asp in an attempt to rescue function, and two mutants with increased activity are identified and characterized. Mutant Thr266-->Gly/Met267-->Gly/Glu269-->Asp binds ligand with increased affinity and catalyzes active lactose transport with a marked increase in rate; however, little improvement in efflux or equilibrium exchange is observed. In contrast, mutant Gly262-->Ala/Glu269-->Asp exhibits no improvement in ligand binding but a small increase in the rate of active transport; however, an increase in the steady-state level of accumulation, as well as efflux and equilibrium exchange is observed. Remarkably, when the two sets of mutations are combined, all translocation reactions are rescued to levels approximating those of wild-type permease. The findings support the contention that Glu269 plays a pivotal role in the mechanism of lactose/H(+) symport. Moreover, the results suggest that the two classes of mutants rescue activity by altering the equilibrium between outwardly and inwardly facing conformations of the permease such that impaired protonation and/or H(+) transfer is enhanced from one side of the membrane or the other. When the two sets of mutants are combined, the equilibrium between outwardly and inwardly facing conformations and thus protonation and H(+) transfer are restored.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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