UhpT, the sugar phosphate transporter of Escherichia coli, acts to exchange internal inorganic phosphate for external hexose 6-phosphate. Because of this operational asymmetry, we studied variants in which rightside-out (RSO) or inside-out (ISO) orientations could be analyzed independently to ask whether the inward- and outward-facing UhpT surfaces have different substrate specificities. To study the RSO orientation, we constructed a histidine-tagged derivative, His10K291C/K294N, in which the sole external tryptic cleavage site (Lys294) had been removed. Functional assay as well as immunoblot analysis showed that trypsin treatment of proteoliposomes containing His10K291C/K294N led to loss of about 50% of the original population, reflecting retention of only the RSO population. To study the ISO orientation, we used a His10 V284C derivative, in which a newly inserted external cysteine (Cys284) conferred sensitivity to the thiol-reactive agent, 3-(N-maleimidylpropionyl)biocytin. In this case, 3-(N- maleimidylpropionyl)biocytin treatment of proteoliposomes containing His10 V284C gave about a 60% loss of activity, and immunoderection of biotin showed parallel modification of an equivalent fraction of the original population. Together, such findings indicate that the UhpT RSO and ISO orientations are in about equal proportion in proteoliposomes and that a single population can be generated by exposure of these derivatives to the appropriate agent. This allowed us to study proteoliposomes with UhpT functioning in RSO orientation (HiS10K291C/K294N) or ISO orientation (His10 V284C) with respect to the kinetics of glucose 6-phosphate transport by phosphate-loaded proteoliposomes and also the inhibitions found with 2-deoxy-glucose 6-phosphate, mannose 6- phosphate, galactose 6-phosphate, fructose 6-phosphate, and inorganic phosphate. We found no significant differences in the behavior of UhpT in its different orientations, indicating that the transporter possesses an overall functional symmetry.
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