Kanamycin Uptake into E. Coli Is Facilitated by OmpF and OmpC Porin Channels Located in the Outer Membrane

Despite decades of therapeutic application of aminoglycosides, it is still a matter of debate if porins contribute to the translocation of the antibiotics across the bacterial outer membrane. Here, we quantified the uptake of kanamycin across the major porin channels OmpF and OmpC present in the outer membrane of E. coli. Our analysis revealed that, despite its relatively large size, about 10 - 20 kanamycin molecules per second permeate through OmpF and OmpC under a 10 mM concentration gradient, whereas OmpN does not allow the passage. Molecular simulations elucidate the uptake mechanism of kanamycin through these porins. Whole-cell studies with a decisive set of E. coli porin mutants provide evidence that translocation of kanamycin via porins is relevant for antibiotic potency.