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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2004 Aug;70(8):4711-9.

Identification of an Na(+)-dependent transporter associated with saxitoxin-producing strains of the cyanobacterium Anabaena circinalis.

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  • 1School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, NSW, Australia.


Blooms of the freshwater cyanobacterium Anabaena circinalis are recognized as an important health risk worldwide due to the production of a range of toxins such as saxitoxin (STX) and its derivatives. In this study we used HIP1 octameric-palindrome repeated-sequence PCR to compare the genomic structure of phylogenetically similar Australian isolates of A. circinalis. STX-producing and nontoxic cyanobacterial strains showed different HIP1 (highly iterated octameric palindrome 1) DNA patterns, and characteristic interrepeat amplicons for each group were identified. Suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) was performed using HIP1 PCR-generated libraries to further identify toxic-strain-specific genes. An STX-producing strain and a nontoxic strain of A. circinalis were chosen as testers in two distinct experiments. The two categories of SSH putative tester-specific sequences were characterized by different families of encoded proteins that may be representative of the differences in metabolism between STX-producing and nontoxic A. circinalis strains. DNA-microarray hybridization and genomic screening revealed a toxic-strain-specific HIP1 fragment coding for a putative Na(+)-dependent transporter. Analysis of this gene demonstrated analogy to the mrpF gene of Bacillus subtilis, whose encoded protein is involved in Na(+)-specific pH homeostasis. The application of this gene as a molecular probe in laboratory and environmental screening for STX-producing A. circinalis strains was demonstrated. The possible role of this putative Na(+)-dependent transporter in the toxic cyanobacterial phenotype is also discussed, in light of recent physiological studies of STX-producing cyanobacteria.

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