Mechanosensitive (MS) ion channels, with 560 pS conductance, opened transiently by rapid application of suction pulses to patches of E. coli protoplast membrane. The adaptation phase of the response was voltage-independent. Application of strong suction pulses, which were sufficient to cause saturation of the MS current, did not abolish the adaptation. Multiple-pulse experimental protocols revealed that once MS channels had fully adapted, they could be reactivated by a second suction pulse of similar amplitude, providing the time between pulses was long enough and suction had been released between pulses. Limited proteolysis (0.2 mg/ml pronase applied to the cytoplasmic side of the membrane patch) reduced the number of open channels without affecting the adaptation. Exposing patches to higher levels of pronase (1 mg/ml) removed responsiveness of the channel to suction and abolished adaptation consistent with disruption of the tension transmission mechanism responsible for activating the MS channel. Based on these data we discuss a mechanism for mechanosensitivity mediated by a cytoplasmic domain of the MS channel molecule or associated protein.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 1, 1998
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