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Biophys J. 2002 Jul;83(1):290-8.

Purification of the small mechanosensitive channel of Escherichia coli (MscS): the subunit structure, conduction, and gating characteristics in liposomes.

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Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA.
U MD, College Park


The small mechanosensitive channel, MscS, is a part of the turgor-driven solute efflux system that protects bacteria from lysis in the event of osmotic downshift. It has been identified in Escherichia coli as a product of the orphan yggB gene, now called mscS (Levina et al., 1999, EMBO J. 18:1730). Here I show that that the isolated 31-kDa MscS protein is sufficient to form a functional mechanosensitive channel gated directly by tension in the lipid bilayer. MscS-6His complexes purified in the presence of octylglucoside and lipids migrate in a high-resolution gel-filtration column as particles of approximately 200 kDa. Consistent with that, the protein cross-linking patterns predict a hexamer. The channel reconstituted in soybean asolectin liposomes was activated by pressures of 20-60 mm Hg and displayed the same asymmetric I-V curve and slight anionic preference as in situ. At the same time, the single-channel conductance is proportional to the buffer conductivity in a wide range of salt concentrations. The rate of channel activation in response to increasing pressure gradient across the patch was slower than the rate of closure in response to decreasing steps of pressure gradient. Therefore, the open probability curves were recorded with descending series of pressures. Determination of the curvature of patches by video imaging permitted measurements of the channel activity as a function of membrane tension (gamma). Po(gamma) curves had the midpoint at 5.5 +/- 0.1 dyne/cm and gave estimates for the energy of opening DeltaG = 11.4 +/- 0.5 kT, and the transition-related area change DeltaA = 8.4 +/- 0.4 nm(2) when fitted with a two-state Boltzmann model. The correspondence between channel properties in the native and reconstituted systems is discussed.

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