Identification of TonB homologs in the family Enterobacteriaceae and evidence for conservation of TonB-dependent energy transduction complexes. Academic Article uri icon


  • The transport of Fe(III)-siderophore complexes and vitamin B12 across the outer membrane of Escherichia coli requires the TonB-dependent energy transduction system. A set of murine monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) was generated against an E. coli TrpC-TonB fusion protein to facilitate structure and function studies. In the present study, the epitopes recognized by these MAbs were mapped, and their distribution in gram-negative organisms was examined. Cross-species reactivity patterns obtained against TonB homologs of known sequence were used to refine epitope mapping, with some epitopes ultimately confirmed by inhibition experiments using synthetic polypeptides. Epitopes recognized by this set of MAbs were conserved in TonB homologs for 9 of 12 species in the family Enterobacteriaceae (including E. coli), including previously unidentified TonB homologs in Shigella, Citrobacter, Proteus, and Kluyvera species. These homologs were also detected by a polyclonal alpha-TrpC-TonB serum that additionally recognized the known Yersinia enterocolitica TonB homolog and a putative TonB homolog in Edwardsiella tarda. These antibody preparations failed to detect the known TonB homologs of either Pseudomonas putida or Haemophilus influenzae but did identify potential TonB homologs in several other nonenteric gram-negative species. In vivo chemical cross-linking experiments demonstrated that in addition to TonB, auxiliary components of the TonB-dependent energy transduction system are broadly conserved in members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, suggesting that the TonB system represents a common system for high-affinity active transport across the gram-negative outer membrane.

published proceedings

  • J Bacteriol

author list (cited authors)

  • Larsen, R. A., Myers, P. S., Skare, J. T., Seachord, C. L., Darveau, R. P., & Postle, K.

citation count

  • 74

complete list of authors

  • Larsen, RA||Myers, PS||Skare, JT||Seachord, CL||Darveau, RP||Postle, K

publication date

  • March 1996