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J Biol Chem. 1998 Jul 10;273(28):17962-7.

Structure-function relationships in OxlT, the oxalate/formate transporter of Oxalobacter formigenes. Topological features of transmembrane helix 11 as visualized by site-directed fluorescent labeling.

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Department of Physiology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Analysis of hydropathy suggests that in OxlT, the oxalate/formate antiporter of Oxalobacter formigenes, lysine 355 is within transmembrane helix no. 11. To test this idea, we used single-cysteine, histidine-tagged OxlT variants to study the organization of a 30-residue segment (residues 344-373) containing this region. Topology was examined by probing the A345C and A370C proteins with Oregon Green maleimide carboxylic acid, an impermeant and fluorescent thiol-reactive agent. Examination of purified protein showed that only A370C was fluorescent after treating intact cells with the probe, while both proteins were modified in tests with isolated membrane ghosts. In addition, labeling of A370C, but not A345C, was blocked when external cysteines were protected with the impermeant and nonfluorescent agent, methanethiosulfonate ethyltrimethylammonium. These findings confirm that A345 faces the cytoplasm, while A370C faces the periplasm. A similar study focused on 13 single-cysteine variants positioned throughout the target segment. That work revealed a striking discontinuity in reactivity toward Oregon Green maleimide; cysteines within a 10-residue central core (residues 351-360) were not labeled when membranes were probed, but were readily modified after protein denaturation. We suggest this core resides within the lipid bilayer, unavailable to an impermeant reporter. Since this region includes position 355, we also suggest that lysine 355 lies within the OxlT hydrophobic sector, where it may facilitate the binding and translocation of the anionic substrates, oxalate and formate.

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