The cell wall of the pathogenic bacterium Rhodococcus equi contains two channel-forming proteins with different properties

Franziska G. Rieß, Marion Elflein, Michael Benk, Bettina Schiffler, Roland Benz*, Natalie Garton, Iain Sutcliffe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


We have identified in organic solvent extracts of whole cells of the gram-positive pathogen Rhodococcus equi two channel-forming proteins with different and complementary properties. The isolated proteins were able to increase the specific conductance of artificial lipid bilayer membranes made from phosphatidylcholine-phosphatidylserine mixtures by the formation of channels able to be permeated by ions. The channel-forming protein POrAReq (R. equi pore A) is characterized by the formation of cation-selective channels, which are voltage gated. PorAReq has a single-channel conductance of 4 nS in 1 M KCl and shows high permeability for positively charged solutes because of the presence of negative point charges. According to the results of sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), the protein has an apparent molecular mass of about 67 kDa. The analysis (using the effect of negative charges on channel conductance) of the concentration dependence of the single-channel conductance suggested that the diameter of the cell wall channel is about 2.0 nm. The second channel (formed by POrBReq [R. equi pore B]) shows a preferred movement of anions through the channel and is not voltage gated. This channel shows a single-channel conductance of 300 pS in 1 M KCl and is characterized by the presence of positive point charges in or near the channel mouth. Based on SDS-PAGE, the apparent molecular mass of the channel-forming protein is about 11 kDa. Channel-forming properties of the investigated cell wall porins were compared with those of others isolated from mycolic acid-containing actinomycetes. We present here the first report of a fully characterized anion-selective cell wall channel from a member of the order Actinomycetales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2952-2960
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2003
Externally publishedYes


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