Excretion and uptake of putrescine by the PotE protein in Escherichia coli

J Biol Chem. 1997 Mar 7;272(10):6318-23. doi: 10.1074/jbc.272.10.6318.


The structure and function of the polyamine transport protein PotE was studied. Uptake of putrescine by PotE was dependent on the membrane potential. In contrast, the putrescine-ornithine antiporter activity of PotE studied with inside-out membrane vesicles was not dependent on the membrane potential (Kashiwagi, K., Miyamoto, S., Suzuki, F., Kobayashi, H., and Igarashi, K. (1992) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 89, 4529-4533). The Km values for putrescine uptake and for putrescine-ornithine antiporter activity were 1.8 and 73 microM, respectively. Uptake of putrescine was inhibited by high concentrations of ornithine. This effect of ornithine appears to be due to putrescine-ornithine antiporter activity because it occurs only after accumulation of putrescine within cells and because ornithine causes excretion of putrescine. Thus, PotE can function not only as a putrescine-ornithine antiporter to excrete putrescine but also as a putrescine uptake protein. Both the NH2 and COOH termini of PotE were located in the cytoplasm, as determined by the activation of alkaline phosphatase and beta-galactosidase by various PotE-fusion proteins. The activities of putrescine uptake and excretion were studied using mutated PotE proteins. It was found that glutamic acid 207 was essential for both the uptake and excretion of putrescine by the PotE protein and that glutamic acids 77 and 433 were also involved in both activities. These three glutamic acids are located on the cytoplasmic side of PotE, and the function of these three residues could not be replaced by other amino acids. Putrescine transport activities did not change significantly with mutations at the other 13 glutamic acid or aspartic acid residues in PotE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antiporters / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell-Free System
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Glutamates / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Ornithine / metabolism
  • Putrescine / metabolism*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Antiporters
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Glutamates
  • Membrane Proteins
  • PotE protein, E coli
  • Ornithine
  • Putrescine