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PNAS 97 (13): 7102-7106

Copyright © 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences.


Osmoregulated ABC-transport system of Lactococcus lactis senses water stress via changes in the physical state of the membrane

Tiemen van der Heide Bert Poolman*

Department of Biochemistry, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute, and University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 4, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands

Accepted for publication April 10, 2000.

Received for publication February 22, 2000.

Abstract: An osmoregulated ABC transporter (OpuA) with novel structural features has been identified that responds to water stress. This glycine betaine transport system consists of an ATP-binding/hydrolyzing subunit (OpuAA) and a protein (OpuABC) that contains both the translocator and the substrate-binding domain. The components of OpuA have been overexpressed, purified, and functionally incorporated into liposomes with an ATP-regenerating system in the vesicle lumen. A transmembrane osmotic gradient (outside hyperosmotic relative to the inside) of both ionic and nonionic compounds was able to osmotically activate OpuA in the proteoliposomal system. Hypoosmotic medium conditions inhibited the basal activity of the system. The data show that OpuAA and OpuABC are sufficient for osmoregulated transport, indicating that OpuA can act both as osmosensor and osmoregulator. Strikingly, OpuA could also be activated by low concentrations of cationic and anionic amphipaths, which interact with the membrane. This result indicates that activation by a transmembrane osmotic gradient is mediated by changes in membrane properties/protein–lipid interactions.

* To whom reprint requests should be addressed. E-mail: b.poolman{at}

Communicated by H. Ronald Kaback, University of California, Los Angeles, CA

Data deposition: The sequence reported in this paper has been deposited in the GenBank database (accession no. AF234619).

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