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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1990 May 9;1024(1):111-21.

Ion channel activities in the Escherichia coli outer membrane.

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Department of Biochemistry and Genetics, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706.


The electrical properties of Escherichia coli cells were examined by the patch-clamp technique. Giant cells or giant spheroplasts were generated by five different methods. By electron micrographic and other criteria we determined that the patches are most likely from the outer membrane. We regularly observed currents through at least two types of channels in this membrane. The first current is mechanosensitive and voltage-dependent, and can be observed in single gene mutants of the known major porins (ompF, ompC, phoE, lamB); this channel may represent a minor porin or a new class of outer membrane protein. The possible identity of the second, voltage-sensitive channel with one of the known outer membrane proteins is being explored. The high-resistance seals consistently formed on these patches and the presence of gated ion channels suggest that most of the pores of the outer membrane are not statically open, as commonly held, but are closed at rest and may be openable by physiological stimuli.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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