Structure, organization, and expression of genes coding for envelope components in the archaeon Methanosarcina mazei S-6
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The antigenic mosaics of archaeal species are complex and lead to the distinction of different immunotypes. We began the dissection of the antigenic mosaic of the methanogen Methanosarcina mazei S-6 by gene cloning and sequencing. The analysis of the sequence, organization, and in vitro (heterologous) and in vivo expression of two three-gene clusters that encode proteins localized to the cell envelope and that are recognized by antibodies for surface structures is presented in this report. The amino acid sequences and compositions share characteristics with S-layer proteins and, most notably, have repeats of conserved sequences and secondary structures. Expressed genes produced proteins with a tendency to oligomerize, and one of these proteins was susceptible to breakdown at regular intervals. Altogether, the data reveal a modular system (clusters of homologous genes, proteins of similar sequences with conserved repeats) seemingly suitable for assembling an enormous variety of final molecular structures by rearranging and combining genes, proteins, and repeats, and thus generate the observed wide spectrum of antigenic diversity.
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