Translocation and assembly of outer membrane proteins of Escherichia coli Selective accumulation of precursors and novel assembly intermediates caused by phenethyl alcohol

Simon Halegoua, Masayori Inouye

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Selective and step-wise inhibition of bioysnthesis and assembly of three major outer membrane proteins of Escherichia coli (matrix protein, tolG protein (DiRienzo et al., 1978), and lipoprotein) was achieved in the presence of phenethyl alcohol. At a lower concentration (0·3% or higher) PEA§ specifically inhibited the processing and assembly of matrix protein, resulting in the accumulation of promatrix protein. The promatrix protein thus synthesized in the presence of PEA was chased into matrix protein and properly assembled into the outer membrane upon the removal of PEA, demonstrating a direct precursor-product relationship between the two proteins. Promatrix protein was sensitive to trypsin and was also solubilized from the membrane fraction by sodium sarcosinate. However, promatrix protein was also found to be loosely associated with the outer membrane fraction. These data indicate that promatrix protein was translocated across the cytoplasmic membrane and localized external to the cytoplasmic membrane, although it was not yet properly inserted into the outer membrane structure. The inhibition of processing of protolG (DiRienzo et al., 1978) protein was observed at higher levels of PEA (0·4% or higher). However, at all concentrations of PEA tested, the accumulation of prolipoprotein was not detected. On the other hand, when PEA was added at concentrations lower than the above critical concentrations for each protein, the precursor was properly processed but the processed proteins (tolG protein, and lipoprotein) were accumulated in the periplasmic space, since they were released by osmotic shock. tolG protein of the soluble cell fraction was chased into the outer membrane after removal of PEA and regrowth of the cells in culture. The processed lipoprotein of the soluble fraction was trypsin-sensitive in contrast to mature lipoprotein. These results indicate that the precursor protein with the peptide extension is transformed into a new assembly intermediate after the extended peptide is cleaved off. This intermediate may be released into the periplasmic space in the presence of PEA before it can be assembled into the outer membrane. These data indicate that the peptide extension is not essential for the insertion of the outer membrane protein into the outer membrane. When PEA (0·3%) was added to a growing culture, the production of not only matrix protein but also promatrix protein was completely inhibited. However, synthesis of promatrix protein was restored when rifampicin was added before the PEA treatment. These results are discussed in terms of control of gene expression for matrix protein. PEA was found to increase the membrane fluidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-61
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 5 1979
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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