Crystal structure of the membrane fusion protein CusB from Escherichia coli.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Mol Biol, Volume 393, Issue 2, p.342-55 (2009)


Binding Sites, Copper, Crystallography, X-Ray, Escherichia coli Proteins, Mass Spectrometry, Membrane Fusion Proteins, Models, Molecular, Protein Binding, Protein Structure, Secondary, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Silver


<p>Gram-negative bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, frequently utilize tripartite efflux complexes belonging to the resistance-nodulation-division family to expel diverse toxic compounds from the cell. These systems contain a periplasmic membrane fusion protein (MFP) that is critical for substrate transport. We here present the x-ray structures of the CusB MFP from the copper/silver efflux system of E. coli. This is the first structure of any MFPs associated with heavy-metal efflux transporters. CusB bridges the inner-membrane efflux pump CusA and outer-membrane channel CusC to mediate resistance to Cu(+) and Ag(+) ions. Two distinct structures of the elongated molecules of CusB were found in the asymmetric unit of a single crystal, which suggests the flexible nature of this protein. Each protomer of CusB can be divided into four different domains, whereby the first three domains are mostly beta-strands and the last domain adopts an entirely helical architecture. Unlike other known structures of MFPs, the alpha-helical domain of CusB is folded into a three-helix bundle. This three-helix bundle presumably interacts with the periplasmic domain of CusC. The N- and C-termini of CusB form the first beta-strand domain, which is found to interact with the periplasmic domain of the CusA efflux pump. Atomic details of how this efflux protein binds Cu(+) and Ag(+) were revealed by the crystals of the CusB-Cu(I) and CusB-Ag(I) complexes. The structures indicate that CusB consists of multiple binding sites for these metal ions. These findings reveal novel structural features of an MFP in the resistance-nodulation-division efflux system and provide direct evidence that this protein specifically interacts with transported substrates.</p>