, Volume 228, Issue 1-2, pp 24-32

Localization and orientation of the VirD4 protein of Agrobacterium tumefaciens in the cell membrane

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Summary

The virD4 gene of Agrobacterium tumefaciens is essential for the formation of crown galls. Analysis of the nucleotide sequence of virD4 has suggested that the N-terminal region of the encoded protein acts as a signal peptide for the transport of the VirD4 protein to the cell membrane of Agrobacterium. We have examined the localization and orientation of this protein in the cell membrane. When the nucleotides encoding the first 30 to 41 amino acids from the N-terminus of the VirD4 protein were fused to the gene for alkaline phosphatase from which the signal sequence had been removed, alkaline phosphatase activity was detectable under appropriate conditions. Immunoblotting with VirD4-specific antiserum indicated that the VirD4 protein could be recovered exclusively from the membrane fraction of Agrobacterium cells. Moreover, when the membrane fraction was separated into inner and outer membrane fractions by sucrose density-gradient centrifugation, VirD4 protein was detected in the inner-membrane fraction and in fractions that sedimented between the inner and outer membrane fractions. By contrast, the VirD4′/′alkaline phosphatase fusion protein with the N-terminal sequence from VirD4 was detected only in the inner membrane fraction. Treatment of spheroplasts of Agrobacterium cells with proteinase K resulted in digestion of the VirD4 protein. These results indicate that the VirD4 protein is transported to the bacterial membrane and anchored on the inner membrane by its N-terminal region. In addition, the C-terminal portion of the VirD4 protein probably protrudes into the periplasmic space, perhaps in association with some unidentified cellular factor(s).

Deceased June 5, 1988
Communicated by H. Saedler