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. 2018 Dec 12;475(23):3903-3915.
doi: 10.1042/BCJ20180477.

On Mechanisms of Colicin Import: The Outer Membrane Quandary


On Mechanisms of Colicin Import: The Outer Membrane Quandary

William A Cramer et al. Biochem J. .


Current problems in the understanding of colicin import across the Escherichia coli outer membrane (OM), involving a range of cytotoxic mechanisms, are discussed: (I) Crystal structure analysis of colicin E3 (RNAase) with bound OM vitamin B12 receptor, BtuB, and of the N-terminal translocation (T) domain of E3 and E9 (DNAase) inserted into the OM OmpF porin, provide details of the initial interaction of the colicin central receptor (R)- and N-terminal T-domain with OM receptors/translocators. (II) Features of the translocon include: (a) high-affinity (K d ≈ 10-9 M) binding of the E3 receptor-binding R-domain E3 to BtuB; (b) insertion of disordered colicin N-terminal domain into the OmpF trimer; (c) binding of the N-terminus, documented for colicin E9, to the TolB protein on the periplasmic side of OmpF. Reinsertion of the colicin N-terminus into the second of the three pores in OmpF implies a colicin anchor site on the periplasmic side of OmpF. (III) Studies on the insertion of nuclease colicins into the cytoplasmic compartment imply that translocation proceeds via the C-terminal catalytic domain, proposed here to insert through the unoccupied third pore of the OmpF trimer, consistent with in vitro occlusion of OmpF channels by the isolated E3 C-terminal domain. (IV) Discussion of channel-forming colicins focuses mainly on colicin E1 for which BtuB is receptor and the OM TolC protein the proposed translocator. The ability of TolC, part of a multidrug efflux pump, for which there is no precedent for an import function, to provide a trans-periplasmic import pathway for colicin E1, is questioned on the basis of an unfavorable hairpin conformation of colicin N-terminal peptides inserted into TolC.

Keywords: E. coli; colicin; outer membrane.

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