Although mechanosensory responses are ubiquitous and diverse, the molecular bases of mechanosensation in most cases remain mysterious.MscL, a mechano-sensitive channel of large conductance of and its bacterial homologues are the first and currently only channel molecules shown to directly sense mechanical stretch of the membrane. In response to the tension conveyed via the lipid bilayer, MscL increases its open probability by several orders of magnitude. In the present review we describe the identification, cloning, and first sets of biophysical and structural data on this simplest mechanosensory molecule. We discovered a 2.5-ns mechanosensitive conductance in giant spheroplasts. Using chromatographies to enrich the target and patch clamp to assay the channel activity in liposome-reconstituted fractions, we identified the MscL protein and cloned the gene. MscL comprises 136 amino acid residues (15 kDa), with two highly hydrophobic regions, and resides in the inner membrane of the bacterium. PhoA-fusion experiments indicate that the protein spans the membrane twice with both termini in the cytoplasm. Spectroscopic techniques show that it is highly helical. Expression of MscL tandems and covalent cross-linking suggest that the active channel complex is a homo-hexamer. We have identified several residues, which when deleted or substituted, affect channel kinetics or mechanosensitivity. Although unique when discovered, highly conserved MscL homologues in both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria have been found, suggesting their ubiquitous importance among bacteria.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error