Mechanosensitive Channels

Pulled Sideways

Science's STKE  26 Nov 2002:
Vol. 2002, Issue 160, pp. tw446-TW446
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2002.160.tw446

Bacteria lack rigid cell walls and must respond rapidly to salt-induced gradients in osmotic pressure. In Escherichia coli, the mechanosensitive channel proteins MscL and MscS open in response to pressure applied perpendicularly to the membrane, which has the effect of pulling laterally on the membrane-embedded proteins. Bass et al. (see the Perspective by Bezanilla and Perozo) provide the crystal structure of MscS and describe how the transmembrane helices might reorient themselves as a result of being pulled sideways. The authors also propose how changes in transmembrane electrical potential might trigger movement of positively charged arginines and voltage-gate the osmolyte flux.

R. B. Bass, P. Strop, M. Barclay, D. C. Rees, Crystal structure of Escherichia coli MscS, a voltage-modulated and mechanosensitive channel. Science 298, 1582-1587 (2002). [Abstract] [Full Text]

F. Bezanilla, E. Perozo, Force and voltage sensors in one structure. Science 298, 1562-1563 (2002). [Summary] [Full Text]