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J Biol Chem. 2010 Dec 3;285(49):38053-61. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.144071. Epub 2010 Oct 4.

Channel domain of colicin A modifies the dimeric organization of its immunity protein.

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  • 1Laboratoire d'Ingéniérie des Systèmes Macromoléculaires, Institut de Microbiologie de la Méditerranée, CNRS UPR-9027, 13402 Marseille Cedex 20, France.


Proteins conferring immunity against pore-forming colicins are localized in the Escherichia coli inner membrane. Their protective effects are mediated by direct interaction with the C-terminal domain of their cognate colicins. Cai, the immunity protein protecting E. coli against colicin A, contains four cysteine residues. We report cysteine cross-linking experiments showing that Cai forms homodimers. Cai contains four transmembrane segments (TMSs), and dimerization occurs via the third TMS. Furthermore, we observe the formation of intramolecular disulfide bonds that connect TMS2 with either TMS1 or TMS3. Co-expression of Cai with its target, the colicin A pore-forming domain (pfColA), in the inner membrane prevents the formation of intermolecular and intramolecular disulfide bonds, indicating that pfColA interacts with the dimer of Cai and modifies its conformation. Finally, we show that when Cai is locked by disulfide bonds, it is no longer able to protect cells against exogenous added colicin A.

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