The Amt family of high-affinity ammonium transporters is a family of integral membrane proteins that are found in archaea, bacteria, fungi, plants and animals. Furthermore, the family has recently been extended to humans with the recognition that both the erythroid and non-erythroid Rhesus proteins are also ammonium transporters. The Escherichia coli AmtB protein offers a good model system for the Amt family and in order to address questions relating to both its structure and function we have overproduced a histidine-tagged form of the protein (AmtB6H) and purified it to homogeneity. We examined the quaternary structure of AmtB6H (which is active in vivo) by SDS/PAGE, gel-filtration chromatography, dynamic light scattering and sedimentation ultracentrifugation. The protein was resistant to dissociation by SDS and behaved as a stable oligomer on SDS/PAGE. By equilibrium desorption chromatography we determined the mass ratio of dodecyl β-d-maltoside to AmtB in the detergent-solubilized complex to be 1.03±0.03, and this allowed us to calculate, from analytical-ultracentrifugation data, that AmtB purifies as a trimer.

Abbreviations used: Mep, methylammonium permease; Rh, Rhesus; RhAG, Rh-associated glycoprotein; DDM, dodecyl β-d-maltoside; IPTG, isopropyl β-d-thiogalactoside; IE, ion-exchange.

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Author notes

1

Present address: Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3UD, U.K.

2

Present address: Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, U.K.