Redesign of a plugged β-barrel membrane protein

Mohammad M. Mohammad, Khalil R. Howard, Liviu Movileanu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


The redesign of biological nanopores is focused on bacterial outer membrane proteins and pore-forming toxins, because their robust β-barrel structure makes them the best choice for developing stochastic biosensing elements. Using membrane protein engineering and single-channel electrical recordings, we explored the ferric hydroxamate uptake component A (FhuA), a monomeric 22-stranded β-barrel protein from the outer membrane of Escherichia coli. FhuA has a luminal cross-section of 3.1 x 4.4 nm and is filled by a globular N-terminal cork domain. Various redesigned FhuA proteins were investigated, including single, double, and multiple deletions of the large extracellular loops and the cork domain. We identified four large extracellular loops that partially occlude the lumen when the cork domain is removed. The newly engineered protein, FhuAΔC/Δ4L, was the result of a removal of almost one-third of the total number of amino acids of the wild-type FhuA (WT-FhuA) protein. This extensive protein engineering encompassed the entire cork domain and four extracellular loops. Remarkably, FhuAΔC/Δ4L forms a functional open pore in planar lipid bilayers, with a measured unitary conductance of ∼4.8 nanosiemens, which is much greater than the values recorded previously with other engineered FhuA protein channels. There are numerous advantages and prospects of using such an engineered outer membrane protein not only in fundamental studies of membrane protein folding and design, and the mechanisms of ion conductance and gating, but also in more applicative areas of stochastic single-molecule sensing of proteins and nucleic acids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8000-8013
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 11 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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