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J Mol Biol. 1999 Jan 29;285(4):1503-13.

Membrane topology of the Rickettsia prowazekii ATP/ADP translocase revealed by novel dual pho-lac reporters.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Alabama College of Medicine, Mobile, AL, 36688, USA.


Here, we report the construction and characterization of dual reporters, consisting of both an Escherichia coli alkaline phosphatase (AP) gene and an alpha-fragment of the beta-galactosidase (BG) gene, for studying membrane protein topology by the gene fusion approach. Each of the reporters, when fused to periplasmic domains of polytopic proteins, produces fusions with high AP activity and, when fused to cytoplasmic domains, produces fusions with high BG activity in E. coli strains capable of alpha-complementation. The dual nature of these reporters simplifies interpretation of data obtained with poorly expressed fusions and allows one to evaluate the reliability of topological data. Deleterious effects resulting from the cell's attempt to export the full-length BG are eliminated in this approach. We describe dual indicator plates that allow for discrimination between colonies bearing cytoplasmic fusions, periplasmic fusions, and no fusions. We have generated a set of fusions to the topologically well-studied lactose permease of E. coli and demonstrated that topological information generated by these new reporters is in good agreement with the existing model. We used this new methodology for the determination of membrane topology of the Rickettsia prowazekii ATP/ADP translocase (Tlc). Our results were in agreement with the proposed in silico topological model in which Tlc traverses the cytoplasmic membrane of E. coli 12 times with its N and C termini facing the cytoplasm.

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