In the search for the essential functional domains of the large mechanosensitive ion channel (MscL) of E. coli, we have cloned several mutants of the mscL gene into a glutathione S-transferase fusion protein expression system. The resulting mutated MscL proteins had either amino acid additions, substitutions or deletions in the amphipathic N-terminal region, and/or deletions in the amphipathic central or hydrophilic C-terminal regions. Proteolytic digestion of the isolated fusion proteins by thrombin yielded virtually pure recombinant MscL proteins that were reconstituted into artificial liposomes and examined for function by the patch-clamp technique. The addition of amino acid residues to the N-terminus of the MscL did not affect channel activity, whereas N-terminal deletions or changes to the N-terminal amino acid sequence were poorly tolerated and resulted in channels exhibiting altered pressure sensitivity and gating. Deletion of 27 amino acids from the C-terminus resulted in MscL protein that formed channels similar to the wild-type, while deletion of 33 C-terminal amino acids extinguished channel activity. Similarly, deletion of the internal amphipathic region of the MscL abolished activity. In accordance with a recently proposed spatial model of the MscL, our results suggest that (i) the N-terminal portion participates in the channel activation by pressure, and (ii) the essential channel functions are associated with both, the putative central amphipathic α-helical portion of the protein and the six C-terminal residues RKKEEP forming a charge cluster following the putative M2 membrane spanning α-helix.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 31, 2009
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