, Volume 100, Issue 2, pp 259-277
Date: 21 May 2011

Proteomic insights into cold adaptation of psychrotrophic and mesophilic Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans strains

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Cold tolerant strains of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans play a role in metal leaching and acid mine drainage (AMD) production in northern latitude/boreal mining environments. In this study we used a proteomics and bioinformatics approach to decipher the proteome changes related to sustained growth at low temperatures to increase our understanding of cold adaptation mechanisms in A. ferrooxidans strains. Changes in protein abundance in response to low temperatures (5 and 15°C) were monitored and protein analyses of a psychrotrophic strain (D6) versus a mesophilic strain (F1) showed that both strains increased levels of 11 stress-related and metabolic proteins including survival protein SurA, trigger factor Tig, and AhpC-Tsa antioxidant proteins. However, a unique set of changes in the proteome of psychrotrophic strain D6 were observed. In particular, the importance of protein fate, membrane transport and structure for psychrotrophic growth were evident with increases in numerous chaperone and transport proteins including GroEL, SecB, ABC transporters and a capsule polysaccharide export protein. We also observed that low temperature iron oxidation coincides with a relative increase in the key iron metabolism protein rusticyanin, which was more highly expressed in strain D6 than in strain F1 at colder growth temperatures. We demonstrate that the psychrotrophic strain uses a global stress response and cold-active metabolism which permit growth of A. ferrooxidans in the extreme AMD environment in colder climates.