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Biochemistry. 1997 Nov 25;36(47):14284-90.

Cysteine-scanning mutagenesis of helix IV and the adjoining loops in the lactose permease of Escherichia coli: Glu126 and Arg144 are essential. off.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Physiology, University of California-Los Angeles 90095-1662, USA.


Cys-scanning mutagenesis has been applied to the remaining 45 residues in lactose permease that have not been mutagenized previously (from Gln100 to Arg144 which comprise helix IV and adjoining loops). Of the 45 single-Cys mutants, 26 accumulate lactose to > 75% of the steady state observed with Cys-less permease, and 14 mutants exhibit lower but significant levels of accumulation (35-65% of Cys-less permease). Permease with Phe140-->Cys or Lys131-->Cys exhibits low activity (15-20% of Cys-less permease), while mutants Gly115-->Cys, Glu126-->Cys and Arg144-->Cys are completely unable to accumulate the dissacharide. However, Cys-less permease with Ala or Pro in place of Gly115 is highly active, and replacement of Lys131 or Phe140 with Cys in wild-type permease has a less deleterious effect on activity. In contrast, mutant Glu126-->Cys or Arg144-->Cys is inactive with respect to both uphill and downhill transport in either Cys-less or wild-type permease. Furthermore, mutants Glu126-->Ala or Gln and Arg144-->Ala or Gln are also inactive in both backgrounds, and activity is not rescued by double neutral replacements or inversion of the charged residues at these positions. Finally, a mutant with Lys in place of Arg144 accumulates lactose to about 25% of the steady state of wild-type, but at a slow rate. Replacement of Glu126 with Asp, in contrast, has relatively little effect on activity. None of the effects can be attributed to decreased expression of the mutants, as judged by immunoblot analysis. Although the activity of most of the single-Cys mutants is unaffected by N-ethylmaleimide, Cys replacement at three positions (Ala127, Val132, or Phe138) renders the permease highly sensitive to alkylation. The results indicate that the cytoplasmic loop between helices IV and V, where insertional mutagenesis has little effect on activity [McKenna, E., et al. (1992) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 89, 11954-11958], contains residues that play an important role in permease activity and that a carboxyl group at position 126 and a positive charge at position 144 are absolutely required.

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