Insight into the assembly properties and functional organisation of the magnetotactic bacterial Actin-like Homolog, MamK.
Verma, Chandra Shekhar.
Date of Issue2012
School of Biological Sciences
Magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) synthesize magnetosomes, which are intracellular vesicles comprising a magnetic particle. A series of magnetosomes arrange themselves in chains to form a magnetic dipole that enables the cell to orient itself along the Earth’s magnetic field. MamK, an actin-like homolog of MreB has been identified as a central component in this organisation. Gene deletion, fluorescence microscopy and in vitro studies have yielded mechanistic differences in the filament assembly of MamK with other bacterial cytoskeletal proteins within the cell. With little or no information on the structural and behavioural characteristics of MamK outside the cell, the mamK gene from Magnetospirillium gryphiswaldense was cloned and expressed to better understand the differences in the cytoskeletal properties with its bacterial homologues MreB and acitin. Despite the low sequence identity shared between MamK and MreB (22%) and actin (18%), the behaviour of MamK monitored by light scattering broadly mirrored that of its bacterial cousin MreB primarily in terms of its pH, salt, divalent metal-ion and temperature dependency. The broad size variability of MamK filaments revealed by light scattering studies was supported by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging. Filament morphology however, indicated that MamK conformed to linearly orientated filaments that appeared to be distinctly dissimilar compared to MreB suggesting functional differences between these homologues. The presence of a nucleotide binding domain common to actin-like proteins was demonstrated by its ability to function both as an ATPase and GTPase. Circular dichroism and structural homology modelling showed that MamK adopts a protein fold that is consistent with the ‘classical’ actin family architecture but with notable structural differences within the smaller domains, the active site region and the overall surface electrostatic potential.
© 2012 The Authors.