Porins in the cell wall of mycobacteria

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Science  27 Nov 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5087, pp. 1479-1481
DOI: 10.1126/science.1279810


The cell wall of mycobacteria is an efficient permeability barrier that makes mycobacteria naturally resistant to most antibiotics. Liposome swelling assays and planar bilayer experiments were used to investigate the diffusion process of hydrophilic molecules through the cell wall of Mycobacterium chelonae and identify the main hydrophilic pathway. A 59-kilodalton cell wall protein formed a water-filled channel with a diameter of 2.2 nanometers and an average single-channel conductance equal to 2.7 nanosiemens in 1 M potassium chloride. These results suggest that porins can be found in the cell wall of a Gram-positive bacterium. A better knowledge of the hydrophilic pathways should help in the design of more effective antimycobacterial agents.

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