The bacterial mechanosensitive channel MscL is the best-studied mechanosensor, thus serving as a paradigm of how a protein senses and responds to mechanical force. Models for the transition of Escherichia coli MscL from closed to open states propose a tilting of the transmembrane domains in the plane of the membrane, suggesting dynamic protein-lipid interactions. Here, we used a rapid in vivo assay to assess the function of channels that were post-translationally modified at several different sites in a region just distal to the cytoplasmic end of the second transmembrane helix. We utilized multiple probes with various affinities for the membrane environment. The in vivo functional data, combined with site-directed mutagenesis, single-channel analyses, and tryptophan fluorescence measurements, confirmed that lipid interactions within this region are critical for MscL gating. The data suggest a model in which this region acts as an anchor for the transmembrane domain tilting during gating. Furthermore, the conservation of analogous motifs among many other channels suggests a conserved protein-lipid dynamic mechanism.
- Methanethiosulfonate modification
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology