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CRC Crit Rev Biochem. 1985;19(2):145-90.

Porin from bacterial and mitochondrial outer membranes.


The outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria acts as a molecular filter with defined exclusion limit for hydrophilic substances. The exclusion limit is dependent on the type of bacteria and has for enteric bacteria like Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium a value between 600 and 800 Daltons, whereas molecules with molecular weights up to 6000 can penetrate the outer membrane of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The molecular sieving properties result from the presence of a class of major proteins called porins which form trimers of identical subunits in the outer membrane. The porin trimers most likely contain only one large but well-defined pore with a diameter between 1.2 and 2 nm. Mitochondria are presumably descendents of gram-negative bacteria. The outer membrane of mitochondria contains in agreement with this hypothesis large pores which are permeable for hydrophilic substances with molecular weights up to 6000. The mitochondrial porins are processed by the cell and have molecular weights around 30,000 Daltons. There exists some evidence that the pore is controlled by electric fields and metabolic processes.

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