, Volume 168, Issue 1, pp 24-32

The characterization of the nv-gvpACNOFGH gene cluster involved in gas vesicle formation in Natronobacterium vacuolatum

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Abstract

The haloalkaliphilic archaeon Natronobacterium vacuolatum forms cylinder-shaped gas vesicles throughout the growth cycle when grown in media containing 15–25% NaCl. Cells cultivated in media containing 13% NaCl are, however, gas-vesicle-free. The major gas vesicle structural protein, nv-GvpA, was detected by an antiserum raised against the gas vesicles of Haloferax mediterranei; the antiserum reacted with an 8.3-kDa protein in samples containing cell extracts or purified gas vesicles of N. vacuolatum. The gene encoding nv-GvpA was isolated together with six additional gvp genes; these genes are arranged consecutively in a cluster as nv-gvpACNOFGH and are cotranscribed. Transcript analysis by primer extension revealed only one start site three nucleotides upstream of the nv-gvpA reading frame. This arrangement of gvp genes differs from that of the gas-vesicle-encoding genes in Halobacterium salinarium and Hf. mediterranei. The comparison of the deduced Gvp protein sequences indicated similarities with the respective halobacterial Gvp proteins, with GvpA exhibiting the highest degree of conservation (97–100%). The second gas vesicle structural protein, nv-GvpC, was 150–250 amino acids longer than all other halobacterial GvpC proteins and was much less conserved (48–73%). The expression of the nv-gvp genes was monitored in N. vacuolatum cells cultivated in 20 or 13% salt media. Northern and Western analyses showed that despite the lack of gas vesicles in cells grown in 13% salt medium, the gvpACNOFGH gene cluster was transcribed and GvpA protein was synthesized, suggesting that the absence of gas vesicles is not due to a lack of transcription.

Received: 23 December 1996 / Accepted: 7 March 1997