Structural and functional studies of bacterial outer membrane proteins
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This thesis studies two particular bacterial outer membrane proteins called OmpC and Wzi, focusing on their expression, purification, crystallization and X-ray structure determination. A series of four naturally occurring OmpC mutants were isolated from a single patient with an E. coli infection of liver cysts. The isolated E. coli strains progressively exhibited increasing breadth of antibiotic resistance in which OmpC was predicted to take a partial role. We carried out an assay in which a strain of E. coli lacking OmpC was used to express the first (antibiotic sensitive) and the last (antibiotic resistant) of the clinical OmpC mutants and drug permeation assessed. Single channel conductance measurements were carried out and the X-ray structures for all the isolates were determined. Protein stability was assessed. With these data we propose that changes in the transverse electric field, not the pore size, underlie the clinically observed resistance to the antibiotics. This is the first demonstration of this strategy for antibiotic resistance. Wzi is a novel outer membrane protein involved in the biosynthesis and translocation mechanism of the K30 antigen from E. coli. The mechanism is a complicated process that requires several proteins including outer and inner membrane proteins. The protein Wzi was expressed, purified and crystallized. Initial crystals were tested and diffracted to 15Å. After optimization, a crystal diffracting to 2.4Å has been obtained.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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