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Science. 2004 Feb 20;303(5661):1189-92.

The structure of a mycobacterial outer-membrane channel.

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Institut für Organische Chemie und Biochemie, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Albertstrasse 21, 79104 Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.


Mycobacteria have low-permeability outer membranes that render them resistant to most antibiotics. Hydrophilic nutrients can enter by way of transmembrane-channel proteins called porins. An x-ray analysis of the main porin from Mycobacterium smegmatis, MspA, revealed a homooctameric goblet-like conformation with a single central channel. This is the first structure of a mycobacterial outer-membrane protein. No structure-related protein was found in the Protein Data Bank. MspA contains two consecutive beta barrels with nonpolar outer surfaces that form a ribbon around the porin, which is too narrow to fit the thickness of the mycobacterial outer membrane in contemporary models.

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