The Journal of biological chemistry

Characterization of the structure, function, and conformational stability of PorB class 3 protein from Neisseria meningitidis. A porin with unusual physicochemical properties.

PMID 9737999


PorB proteins constitute the vast majority of channels in neisserial outer membranes and can be subdivided within meningococcal strains into two distinct and mutually exclusive families that are designated as class 2 and class 3 proteins. We recently characterized the functional activity and conformational stability of a PorB class 2 protein from Neisseria meningitidis (Minetti, C. A. S. A., Tai, J. Y., Blake, M. S., Pullen, J. K., Liang, S. M., and Remeta, D. P. (1997) J. Biol. Chem. 272, 10710-10720). To evaluate the structure-function relatedness among the PorB proteins, we have employed a combination of electrophoretic and spectroscopic techniques to assess the conformational stability of zwittergent-solubilized class 3 trimers. The functional, physicochemical, and structural properties of the meningococcal class 2 and class 3 proteins are comparable with the notable exception that the latter exhibits a significantly higher susceptibility to SDS. The SDS-induced dissociation and partial unfolding of PorB class 3 is characterized by a single two-state transition with a midpoint at 0.35% SDS. The native trimeric assembly dissociates reversibly, forming partially folded monomers that retain the characteristic beta-sheet content of the transmembrane domain with a concomitant increase in random coil structure arising from unfolding the rigid surface loops. These results provide new insight into the elucidation of porin folding pathways and the factors that govern the overall structural stability of meningococcal proteins.