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Proteins. 2005 May 1;59(2):240-51.

Comparative structural analysis of TonB-dependent outer membrane transporters: implications for the transport cycle.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.


TonB-dependent outer membrane transporters (TBDTs) transport organometallic substrates across the outer membranes of Gram-negative bacteria. Currently, structures of four different TBDTs have been determined by X-ray crystallography. TBDT structures consist of a 22-stranded beta-barrel enclosing a hatch domain. Structure-based sequence alignment of these four TBDTs indicates the presence of highly conserved motifs in both the hatch and barrel domains. The conserved motifs of the two domains are always in close proximity to each other and interact. We analyzed the very large interfaces between the barrel and hatch domains of TBDTs and compared their properties to those of other protein-protein interfaces. These interfaces are extensively hydrated. Most of the interfacial waters form hydrogen bonds to either the barrel or the hatch domain, with the remainder functioning as bridging waters in the interface. The hatch/barrel interfacial properties most resemble those of obligate transient protein complexes, suggesting that the interface is conducive to conformational change and/or movement of the hatch within the barrel. These results indicate that TBDTs can readily accommodate substantial conformational change and movement of their hatch domains during the active transport cycle. Also, these structural changes may require only modest forces exerted by the energy-coupling TonB protein upon the transporter.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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