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Biophys J. 2011 Apr 6;100(7):1635-41. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.02.016.

Flying-patch patch-clamp study of G22E-MscL mutant under high hydrostatic pressure.

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Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Darlinghurst, Australia.


High hydrostatic pressure (HHP) present in natural environments impacts on cell membrane biophysical properties and protein quaternary structure. We have investigated the effect of high hydrostatic pressure on G22E-MscL, a spontaneously opening mutant of Escherichia coli MscL, the bacterial mechanosensitive channel of large conductance. Patch-clamp technique combined with a flying-patch device and hydraulic setup allowed the study of the effects of HHP up to 90 MPa (as near the bottom of the Marianas Trench) on the MscL mutant channel reconstituted into liposome membranes, in addition to recording in situ from the mutant channels expressed in E. coli giant spheroplasts. In general, against thermodynamic predictions, hydrostatic pressure in the range of 0.1-90 MPa increased channel open probability by favoring the open state of the channel. Furthermore, hydrostatic pressure affected the channel kinetics, as manifested by the propensity of the channel to gate at subconducting levels with an increase in pressure. We propose that the presence of water molecules around the hydrophobic gate of the G22E MscL channel induce hydration of the hydrophobic lock under HHP causing frequent channel openings and preventing the channel closure in the absence of membrane tension. Furthermore, our study indicates that HHP can be used as a valuable experimental approach toward better understanding of the gating mechanism in complex channels such as MscL.

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