Poster Presentation The 43rd Lorne Conference on Protein Structure and Function 2018

Molecular basis for the maintenance of lipid asymmetry in the outer membrane of Escherichia coli (#275)

Kang Wei Tan 1 , Jiang Yeow 1 , Daniel A. Holdbrook 2 , Zhi-Soon Chong 1 , Jan K. Marzinek 2 , Peter J. Bond 2 , Shu Sin Chng 1
  1. National University of Singapore, Singapore, SINGAPORE
  2. A*Star, singapore, Singapore

A distinctive feature of the Gram-negative bacterial cell envelope is the asymmetric outer membrane (OM), where lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and phospholipids (PLs) reside in the outer and inner leaflets, respectively. This unique lipid asymmetry renders the OM impermeable to external insults. In Escherichia coli, the OmpC-MlaA complex is believed to maintain lipid asymmetry by removing mislocalized PLs from the outer leaflet of the OM. How it performs this function is unknown. Here, we define the molecular architecture of the OmpC-MlaA complex to gain insights into its role in PL transport. We establish that MlaA sits entirely within the bilayer in complex with OmpC and provides a hydrophilic channel possibly for PL translocation. Furthermore, we demonstrate that flexibility in a hairpin loop adjacent to the channel modulates MlaA activity. Finally, we establish that OmpC plays an active role in maintaining OM lipid asymmetry together with MlaA. Our work offers glimpses into how the OmpC-MlaA complex transports PLs across the OM and has important implications for future antimicrobial drug development.