Relative rates of amino acid import via the ABC transporter GlnPQ determine the growth performance of Lactococcus lactis

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The GlnPQ transporter from Lactococcus lactis has the remarkable feature of having two substrate-binding domains (SBD) fused to the N-terminus of the transmembrane domain (TMD), and thus four SBDs are present in the homodimeric complex. Although X-ray structures and ligand binding data are available for both SBDs, little is known of how different amino acids compete with each other for transport via GlnPQ. Here we show GlnPQ has a broader substrate specificity than previously thought with the ability to take up asparagine, glutamine and glutamic acid, albeit via different routes and with different affinities. Asparagine and glutamine compete with each other at the level of binding to SBD1 and SBD2 (differences in dissociation constant) but at the same time SBD1 and SBD2 compete with each other at the level of interaction with the translocator domain (difference in affinity constant and rate of transport). Although glutamine transport via SBD1 is outcompeted by physiological concentrations of asparagine, SBD2 ensures high rates import of the essential amino acid glutamine. Taken together, this study demonstrates that even in the presence of competing asparagine concentrations GlnPQ has a high capacity to transport glutamine, which matches the high needs of the cell for glutamine and glutamate.

IMPORTANCE: GlnPQ is an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter for glutamine, glutamic acid and asparagine. The system is essential in various Gram-positive bacteria, incl L. lactis and several pathogens. Here we show how the amino acids compete with each other for binding to the multiple SBDs of GlnPQ and how these SBDs compete with each other for substrate delivery to the transporter. Overall, our results show that GlnPQ has evolved to transport diverse substrates via different paths and to optimally acquire the abundant and essential amino acid glutamine.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberJB.00685-15
Pages (from-to)477-485
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number3
Early online date9-Nov-2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2016



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