Measurement of the Electrogenicity of Bile Salt/H+ Antiport in Escherichia coli

Scarlett R. Holdsworth, Christopher J. Law

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The transmembrane proton gradient (ΔpH) is the primary source of energy exploited by secondary active substrate/H+ antiporters to drive the electroneutral transport of substrates across the Escherichia coli (E. coli) inner membrane. Such electroneutral transport results in no net movement of charges across the membrane. The charge on the transported substrate and the stoichiometry of the exchange reaction, however, can result in an electrogenic reaction which is driven by both the ΔpH and the electrical (∆Ψ) components of the proton electrochemical gradient, resulting in a net movement of electrical charges across the membrane. We have shown that the major facilitator superfamily transporter MdtM - a multidrug efflux protein from E. coli that functions physiologically in protection of bacterial cells against bile salts - imparts bile salt resistance to the bacterial cell by coupling the exchange of external protons (H+) to the efflux of bile salts from the cell interior via an electrogenic antiport reaction (Paul et al., 2014). This protocol describes, using fluorometry, how to detect electrogenic antiport activity of MdtM in inverted membrane vesicles of an antiporter-deficient strain of E. coli TO114 cells by measuring transmembrane ∆Ψ. The method exploits changes that occur in the intensity of the fluorescence signal (quenching and dequenching) of the probe Oxonol V in response to changes in membrane potential due to the MdtM-catalysed sodium cholate/H+ exchange reaction. The protocol can be adapted to detect activity of any secondary active antiporter that couples the electrogenic translocation of H+ across a biological membrane to that of its counter-substrate, and may be used to unmask otherwise camouflaged transport activities and physiological roles.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1279
Number of pages11
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 05 Nov 2014


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