COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Unraveling the function of the Rhodospirillum rubrum activator of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) degradation: the activator is a PHB-granule-bound protein (phasin)

Rene Handrick, Simone Reinhardt, Daniel Schultheiss, Thomas Reichart, Dirk Schüler, Verena Jendrossek, Dieter Jendrossek
Journal of Bacteriology 2004, 186 (8): 2466-75
15060050
Efficient hydrolysis of native poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (nPHB) granules in vitro by soluble PHB depolymerase of Rhodospirillum rubrum requires pretreatment of nPHB with an activator compound present in R. rubrum cells (J. M. Merrick and M. Doudoroff, J. Bacteriol. 88:60-71, 1964). Edman sequencing of the purified activator (17.4 kDa; matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry) revealed identity to a hypothetical protein deduced from a partially sequenced R. rubrum genome. The complete activator gene, apdA (activator of polymer degradation), was cloned from genomic DNA, expressed as a six-His-tagged protein in recombinant Escherichia coli (M(r), 18.3 x 10(3)), and purified. The effect of ApdA on PHB metabolism was studied in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, the activity of the activator could be replaced by trypsin, but recombinant ApdA itself had no protease activity. Comparative sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis of the protein patterns of trypsin- and ApdA-treated nPHB granules isolated from different PHB-accumulating bacteria showed that trypsin activated nPHB by removing proteins of the surface layer of nPHB regardless of the origin of nPHB, but ApdA bound to and interacted with the surface layer of nPHB in a nonproteolytic manner, thereby transforming nPHB into an activated form that was accessible to the depolymerase. In vivo, expression of ApdA in E. coli harboring the PHB biosynthetic genes, phaCBA, resulted in significant increases in the number and surface/volume ratio of accumulated PHB granules, which was comparable to the effect of phasin proteins, such as PhaP in Ralstonia eutropha. The amino acid sequence of ApdA was 55% identical to the amino acid sequence of Mms16, a magnetosome-associated protein in magnetotactic Magnetospirillum species. Mms16 was previously reported to be a GTPase with an essential function in magnetosome formation (Y. Okamura, H. Takeyama, and T. Matsunaga, J. Biol. Chem. 276:48183-48188, 2001). However, no GTPase activity of ApdA could be demonstrated. We obtained evidence that Mms16 of Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense can functionally replace ApdA in R. rubrum. Fusions of apdA and mms16 to gfp or yfp were functionally expressed, and both fusions colocalized with PHB granules after conjugative transfer to R. rubrum. In conclusion, ApdA in vivo is a PHB-bound, phasin-like protein in R. rubrum. The function of Mms16 in magnetotactic bacteria requires further clarification.

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