Elife. 2019 Jun 25;8. pii: e46258. doi: 10.7554/eLife.46258

Storek KM, Chan J, Vij R, Chiang N, Lin Z, Bevers J 3rd, Koth CM, Vernes JM, Meng YG, Yin J, Wallweber H, Dalmas O, Shriver S, Tam C, Schneider K, Seshasayee D, Nakamura G, Smith PA, Payandeh J, Koerber JT, Comps-Agrar L, Rutherford ST

Abstract
Outer membrane proteins (OMPs) in Gram-negative bacteria dictate permeability of metabolites, antibiotics, and toxins. Elucidating the structure-function relationships governing OMPs within native membrane environments remains challenging. We constructed a diverse library of >3000 monoclonal antibodies to assess the roles of extracellular loops (ECLs) in LptD, an essential OMP that inserts lipopolysaccharide into the outer membrane of Escherichia coli. Epitope binning and mapping experiments with LptD-loop-deletion mutants demonstrated that 7 of the 13 ECLs are targeted by antibodies. Only ECLs inaccessible to antibodies were required for the structure or function of LptD. Our results suggest that antibody-accessible loops evolved to protect key extracellular regions of LptD, but are themselves dispensable. Supporting this hypothesis, no α-LptD antibody interfered with essential functions of LptD. Our experimental workflow enables structure-function studies of OMPs in native cellular environments, provides unexpected insight into LptD, and presents a method to assess the therapeutic potential of antibody targeting.

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