Transferrins selectively cause ion efflux through bacterial and artificial membranes

FEBS Lett. 2003 Jul 31;548(1-3):5-10. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(03)00719-1.


Serum transferrin, ovotransferrin and lactoferrin constitute the most notable members of the transferrin family. Among their multiple biological functions, they possess an important antibacterial activity. These proteins can permeate the Escherichia coli outer membrane, reaching the inner membrane where they selectively cause permeation of ions, resulting in dissipation of the electrical potential without affecting the pH gradient. Similar results were obtained using artificial liposomes, suggesting a direct action of the proteins on the lipid bilayer, which was mediated by detectable conformational changes in their structures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacteria / ultrastructure
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Conalbumin
  • Dactinomycin / pharmacology
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / ultrastructure
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Ion Transport
  • Ions / metabolism*
  • Lactoferrin
  • Liposomes / metabolism*
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Transferrin / chemistry
  • Transferrin / metabolism
  • Transferrin / physiology*


  • Ions
  • Liposomes
  • Transferrin
  • Conalbumin
  • Dactinomycin
  • Lactoferrin