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Exploring the diversity of mechanosensitive channels in bacterial genomes

Abstract

Mechanosensitive ion channels are responsible for touch sensation and proprioception in higher level organisms such as humans and recovery after osmotic stress in bacteria. Bacterial mechanosensitive channels are homologous to either the mechanosensitive channel of large conductance (MscL) or the mechanosensitive channel of small conductance (MscS). In the E. coli genome there are seven unique mechanosensitive channels, a single MscL homologue, and six MscS homologues. The six MscS homologues are members of the diverse MscS superfamily of ion channels, and these channels show variation on both the N and C termini when compared to E. coli MscS. In bacterial strains with phenotypic analysis of the endogenous mechanosensors, the quantity of MscS superfamily members in the genome range from 2 to 6 and all of the strains contain a copy of MscL. Here, we show an in-depth analysis of over 150 diverse bacterial genomes, encompassing nine phyla, to determine the number of genomes that contain an MscL homologue and the average number of MscS superfamily members per genome. We determined that the average genome contains 4 ± 3 MscS homologues and 67% of bacterial genomes encode for a MscL homologue.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank BK, JAM, and JRK for their helpful comments.

Funding

This work was supported by University of North Florida start up (HRM), Van Vleck Early Career Teaching Excellence Award (HRM), and UNF Academic Affairs Faculty Development Grant (HRM).

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Correspondence to Hannah R. Malcolm.

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Johnson, S.C., Veres, J. & Malcolm, H.R. Exploring the diversity of mechanosensitive channels in bacterial genomes. Eur Biophys J 50, 25–36 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00249-020-01478-1

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Keywords

  • Mechanosensitive ion channels
  • MscS superfamily
  • MscL
  • Bacterial ion channels