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Biol Met. 1991;4(1):14-22.

Transport of iron across the outer membrane.

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Mikrobiologie II, Universität Tübingen, Täubingen, Federal Republic of Germany.


The TonB protein is involved in energ-coupled receptor-dependent transport processes across the outer membrane. The TonB protein is anchored in the cytoplasmic membrane but exposed to the periplasmic space. To fulfill its function, it has to couple the energy-providing metabolism in the cytoplasmic membrane with regulation of outer membrane receptor activity. Ferrichrome and albomycin transport, uptake of colicin M, and infection by the phages T1 and phi 80 occur via the same receptor, the FhuA protein in the outer membrane. Therefore, this receptor is particularly suitable for the study of energy-coupled TonB-dependent transport across the outer membrane. Ferrichrome, albomycin and colicin M bind to the FhuA receptor but are not released into the periplasmic space of unenergized cells, or tonB mutants. In vivo interaction between FhuA and TonB is suggested by the restoration of activity of inactive FhuA proteins, bearing amino acid replacements in the TonB box, by TonB derivatives with single amino acid substitutions. Point mutations in the fhuA gene are suppressed by point mutations in the tonB gene. In addition, naturally occurring degradation of the TonB protein and its derivatives is preferentially prevented in vivo by FhuA and FhuA derivatives where functional interaction takes place. It is proposed that in the energized state, TonB induces a conformation in FhuA which leads to the release of the FhuA-bound compounds into the periplasmic space. Activation of FhuA by TonB depends on the ExbBD proteins in the cytoplasmic membrane. They can be partially replaced by the TolQR proteins which show strong sequence similarity to the ExbBD proteins.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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