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Biochemistry. 2013 Jun 11;52(23):3974-86. doi: 10.1021/bi400103t. Epub 2013 May 24.

The lipid bilayer-inserted membrane protein BamA of Escherichia coli facilitates insertion and folding of outer membrane protein A from its complex with Skp.

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Fachbereich Biologie, Universität Konstanz, D-78457 Konstanz, Germany.


Folding of β-barrel membrane proteins, either from a urea-unfolded form or from chaperone-bound aqueous forms, has been characterized for pure lipid bilayers. The impact of preinserted integral proteins from biomembranes has not been examined in biophysical comparisons, but this knowledge is important for the characterization of protein assembly machinery in membranes to distinguish specific effects from unspecific effects. Here, folding was studied for a β-barrel membrane protein, outer membrane protein A (OmpA) from Escherichia coli, in the absence and presence of two other preinserted integral proteins, BamA of the β-barrel assembly machinery complex (BAM) from E. coli and FomA from Fusobacterium nucleatum. Three different preformed lipid membranes of phosphatidylcholine were prepared to compare the folding kinetics of OmpA, namely, proteoliposomes containing either BamA or FomA and pure liposomes. Urea-unfolded OmpA folded faster into phosphatidylcholine bilayers containing FomA than into pure lipid bilayers, but the kinetics of OmpA folding and insertion were fastest for bilayers containing BamA. Incorporation of BamA into lipid bilayers composed of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylethanolamine greatly weakened the inhibiting effect of phosphatidylethanolamine on the folding of OmpA. Folding of OmpA from its complex with the periplasmic chaperone Skp into bilayers composed of phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylcholine was inhibited in the absence of BamA but facilitated when BamA was present, indicating an interaction of Skp-OmpA complexes with BamA.

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