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Biometals. 2007 Jun;20(3-4):467-83. Epub 2007 Jan 16.

Bioinformatic analysis of the TonB protein family.

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Structural Biology Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2N 1N4.


TonB is a protein prevalent in a large number of Gram-negative bacteria that is believed to be responsible for the energy transduction component in the import of ferric iron complexes and vitamin B(12) across the outer membrane. We have analyzed all the TonB proteins that are currently contained in the Entrez database and have identified nine different clusters based on its conserved 90-residue C-terminal domain amino acid sequence. The vast majority of the proteins contained a single predicted cytoplasmic transmembrane domain; however, nine of the TonB proteins encompass a approximately 290 amino acid N-terminal extension homologous to the MecR1 protein, which is composed of three additional predicted transmembrane helices. The periplasmic linker region, which is located between the N-terminal domain and the C-terminal domain, is extremely variable both in length (22-283 amino acids) and in proline content, indicating that a Pro-rich domain is not a required feature for all TonB proteins. The secondary structure of the C-terminal domain is found to be well preserved across all families, with the most variable region being between the second alpha-helix and the third beta-strand of the antiparallel beta-sheet. The fourth beta-strand found in the solution structure of the Escherichia coli TonB C-terminal domain is not a well conserved feature in TonB proteins in most of the clusters. Interestingly, several of the TonB proteins contained two C-terminal domains in series. This analysis provides a framework for future structure-function studies of TonB, and it draws attention to the unusual features of several TonB proteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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