ExbB and ExbD do not function independently in TonB-dependent energy transduction

Kiara G. Held, Kathleen Postle

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38 Scopus citations


ExbB and ExbD proteins are part of the TonB-dependent energy transduction system and are encoded by the exb operon in Escherichia coli. TonB, the energy transducer, appears to go through a cycle during energy transduction, with the absence of both ExbB and ExbD creating blocks at two points: (i) in the inability of TonB to respond to the cytoplasmic membrane proton motive force and (ii) in the conversion of TonB from a high-affinity outer membrane association to a high-affinity cytoplasmic membrane association. The recent observation that ExbB exists in 3.5-fold molar excess relative to the molarity of ExbD in E. coli suggests the possibility of two types of complexes, those containing both ExbB and ExbD and those containing only ExbB. Such distinct complexes might individually manifest one of the two activities described above. In the present study this hypothesis was tested and rejected. Specifically, both ExbB and ExbD were found to be required for TonB to conformationally respond to proton motive force. Both ExbB and ExbD were also required for association of TonB with the cytoplasmic membrane. Together, these results support an alternative model where all of the ExbB in the cell occurs in complex with all of the ExbD in the cell. Based on recently determined cellular ratios of TonB system proteins, these results suggest the existence of a cytoplasmic membrane complex that may be as large as 520 kDa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5170-5173
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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