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Structure. 2008 Mar;16(3):371-9. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2007.12.023.

Colicin N binds to the periphery of its receptor and translocator, outer membrane protein F.

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  • 1The Institute for Cell and Molecular Biosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 4HH, United Kingdom.


Colicins kill Escherichia coli after translocation across the outer membrane. Colicin N displays an unusually simple translocation pathway, using the outer membrane protein F (OmpF) as both receptor and translocator. Studies of this binary complex may therefore reveal a significant component of the translocation pathway. Here we show that, in 2D crystals, colicin is found outside the porin trimer, suggesting that translocation may occur at the protein-lipid interface. The major lipid of the outer leaflet interface is lipopolysaccharide (LPS). It is further shown that colicin N binding displaces OmpF-bound LPS. The N-terminal helix of the pore-forming domain, which is not required for pore formation, rearranges and binds to OmpF. Colicin N also binds artificial OmpF dimers, indicating that trimeric symmetry plays no part in the interaction. The data indicate that colicin is closely associated with the OmpF-lipid interface, providing evidence that this peripheral pathway may play a role in colicin transmembrane transport.

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