Ion selectivity of gram-negative bacterial porins

R. Benz, A. Schmid, Robert Hancock

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Twelve different porins from the gram-negative bacteria Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Yersinia pestis were reconstituted into lipid bilayer membranes. Most of the porins, except outer membrane protein P, formed large, water-filled, ion-permeable channels with a single-channel conductance between 1.5 and 6nS in 1 M KCl. The ions used for probing the pore structure had the same relative mobilities while moving through the porin pore as they did while moving in free solution. Thus the single-channel conductances of the individual porins could be used to estimate the effective channel diameters of these porins, yielding values ranging from 1.0 to 2.0 nm. Zero-current potential measurements in the presence of salt gradients across lipid balayer membranes containing individual porins gave results that were consistent with the conclusions drawn from the single-channel experiments. For all porins except protein P, the channels exhibited a greater cation selectivity for less mobile anions and a greater anion selectivity for less mobile cations, which again indicated that the ions were moving inside the pores in a fashion similar to their movement in the aqueous phase. Three porins, phoE and NmpC of E. coli and protein P of P. aeruginosa, formed anion-selective pores. PhoE and NmpC were only weakly anion selective, and their selectivity was dependent on the mobility of the ions. In contrast, cations were unable to enter the selectivity filter of the protein P channel. This resulted in a high anion selectivity for all salts tested in this study. The other porins examined, including all of the known constitutive porins of the four gram-negative bacteria studied, were cation selective with a 3- to 40-fold preference for K+ ions over Cl- ions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)722-727
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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