Enzyme IIA(Glc), encoded by the crr gene of the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system, plays an important role in regulating intermediary metabolism in Escherichia coli ("catabolite repression"). One function involves inhibition of inducible transport systems ("inducer exclusion"), and with lactose permease, a galactoside is required for unphosphorylated IIA(Glc) binding to cytoplasmic loops IV/V and VI/VII [Sondej, M., Sun, J. et al. (1999) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 96, 3525-3530]. With inside-out membrane vesicles containing the permease, [(125)I]IIA(Glc) binding promoted by melibiose exhibits an affinity (K(D)(IIA)) of approximately 1 microM and a stoichiometry of one mole of IIA(Glc) per six moles of lactose permease. Both the quantity of [(125)I]IIA(Glc) bound and the sugar concentration required for half-maximal IIA(Glc) binding (K(0.5)(IIA)(sug)) was measured for eight permease substrates. Differences in maximal IIA(Glc) binding are observed, and the K(0.5)(IIA)(sug) does not correlate with the affinity of LacY for sugar. Furthermore, K(0.5)(IIA)(sug) does not correlate with sugar affinities for various permease mutants. IIA(Glc) does not bind to a mutant (Cys154 --> Gly), which is locked in an outwardly facing conformation, binds with increased stoichiometry to mutant Lys131 --> Cys, and binds only weakly to two other mutants which appear to be predominantly in either an outwardly or an inwardly facing conformation. When the latter two mutations are combined, sugar-dependent IIA(Glc) binding returns to near wild-type levels. The findings suggest that binding of various substrates to lactose permease results in a collection of unique conformations, each of which presents a specific surface toward the inner face of the membrane that can interact to varying degrees with IIA(Glc).