This paper describes a novel genetic method used to isolate mutations that alter proper assembly of OmpF in the outer membrane. The thermolabile nature of assembly intermediates allowed selection of temperature-sensitive mutations within the ompF gene. A variant allele of ompF (ompF-Dex) was used because it provided a convenient selectable phenotype (Dex+). Assembly mutants were isolated in two steps. First, amber mutations were obtained that mapped in ompF-Dex. This resulted in a Dex- phenotype. Starting with these Dex- strains, Dex+ revertants were isolated. Mutants that displayed a temperature-sensitive Dex+ phenotype were further characterized. Three such mutants possessed a single substitution within ompF that reverted the nonsense codon to a sense codon which replaced W214 with either an E or Q and Y231 with a Q residue in the mature OmpF protein. All three mutant OmpF proteins showed an assembly defect. This defect led to a substantial reduction in the amount of stable OmpF trimers with the concomitant increase of a high-molecular-weight form of OmpF which migrated at the top of the gel. Suppressor mutations were sought that corrected the assembly defect of OmpF. These extragenic suppressor mutations were mapped at 45 min on the Escherichia coli chromosome. The suppressor mutations displayed no allele specificity and were recessive to the wild-type allele. In the presence of a suppressor, mutant stable trimers appeared in an almost normal manner. The appearance of stable trimers concurred with a substantial loss of the high- molecular-weight OmpF species. At this stage, it is not clear whether the high-molecular-weight species of OmpF is a normal assembly intermediate or a dead-end assembly product. The results presented in this study raise the intriguing possibility of a chaperone-like activity for the wild-type suppressor gene product.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology