Gs. Moeck et L. Letellier, Characterization of in vitro interactions between a truncated TonB proteinfrom Escherichia coli and the outer membrane receptors FhuA and FepA, J BACT, 183(9), 2001, pp. 2755-2764
High-affinity iron uptake in gram-negative bacteria depends upon TonB, a pr
otein which couples the proton motive force in the cytoplasmic membrane to
iron chelate receptors in the outer membrane. To advance studies on TonB st
ructure and function, we expressed a recombinant form of Escherichia coli T
onB lacking the N-terminal cytoplasmic membrane anchor. This protein (H-6-'
TonB; M-r, 24,880) was isolated in a soluble fraction of lysed cells and wa
s purified by virtue of a hexahistidine tag located at its N terminus. Sedi
mentation experiments indicated that the H-6-'TonB preparation was almost m
onodisperse and the protein was essentially monomeric. The value found for
the Stokes radius (3.8 nm) is in good agreement with the value calculated b
y size exclusion chromatography. The frictional ratio (2.0) suggested that
H-6-'TonB adopts a highly asymmetrical form with an axial ratio of 15. H-6-
'TonB captured both the ferrichrome-iron receptor FhuA and the ferric enter
obactin receptor FepA from detergent-solubilized outer membranes in vitro.
Capture was enhanced by preincubation of the receptors with their cognate l
igands. Cross-linking assays with the purified proteins in vitro demonstrat
ed that there was preferential interaction between TonB and ligand-loaded F
huA. Purified H-6-'TonB was found to be stable and thus shows promise for h
igh-resolution structural studies.