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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Changing the lactose permease of Escherichia coli into a galactose-specific symporter.

N-ethylmaleimide (NEM) modification of a lactose permease mutant containing a single-Cys in place of Ala-122 (helix IV) abolishes active lactose transport. Moreover, lactose, melibiose, and beta,d-galactopyranosyl 1-thio-beta,D-galactopyranoside protect against NEM inactivation of lactose transport and/or alkylation of Cys-122 by [(14)C]NEM. Remarkably, however, D-galactose transport is relatively unaffected by NEM, and the monosaccharide affords no protection against NEM inactivation of lactose transport. Consistently, competitive inhibition of [(14)C]galactose transport by lactose, melibiose, or beta,D-galactopyranosyl 1-thio-beta,D-galactopyranoside is drastically reduced after NEM modification, whereas inhibition by unlabeled galactose is unaffected. The results indicate that alkylation of Cys-122 selectively inhibits binding and transport of disaccharides, whereas transport of the monosaccharide galactose remains largely unaffected. In addition, although the conservative mutation Ala-122 --> Ser causes only mild inhibition of lactose transport, the mutations Ala-122 --> Phe and Ala-122 --> Tyr lead to marked inhibition. In contradistinction, none of these replacements has a marked effect on galactose transport. The results demonstrate that Ala-122 is a component of the ligand-binding site and provide a strong indication that the side chain at position 122 abuts on the non-galactosyl moiety of D-galactopyranosides. This is in contrast to Cys-148, a neighboring residue in helix V, that interacts with the hydrophobic face of the galactosyl moiety of D-galactopyranosides.[1]


  1. Changing the lactose permease of Escherichia coli into a galactose-specific symporter. Guan, L., Sahin-Toth, M., Kaback, H.R. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2002) [Pubmed]
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