The cell envelope of the Gram negative opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa is poorly permeable to many classes of hydrophilic molecules including antibiotics due to the presence of the narrow and selective porins. Here we focused on one of the narrow-channel porins, that is, OprP, which is responsible for the high-affinity uptake of phosphate ions. Its two central binding sites for phosphate contain a number of positively charged amino acids together with a single negatively charged residue (D94). The presence of this negatively charged residue in a binding site for negatively charged phosphate ions is highly surprising due to the potentially reduced binding affinity. The goal of this study was to better understand the role of D94 in phosphate binding, selectivity, and transport using a combination of mutagenesis, electrophysiology, and free-energy calculations. The presence of a negatively charged residue in the binding site is critical for this specific porin OprP as emphasized by the evolutionary conservation of such negatively charged residue in the binding site of several anion-selective porins. Mutations of D94 in OprP to any positively charged or neutral residue increased the binding affinity of phosphate for OprP. Detailed analysis indicated that this anionic residue in the phosphate binding site of OprP, despite its negative charge, maintained energetically favorable phosphate binding sites in the central region of the channel and at the same time decreased residence time thus preventing excessively strong binding of phosphate that would oppose phosphate flux through the channel. Intriguingly mutations of D94 to positively charged residues, lysine and arginine, resulted in very different binding affinities and free energy profiles, indicating the importance of side chain conformations of these positively charged residues in phosphate binding to OprP.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine