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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2002 Oct;68(10):4827-34.

Characterization and implications of the cell surface reactivity of Calothrix sp. strain KC97.

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Department of Geology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3B1, Canada.


The cell surface reactivity of the cyanobacterium Calothrix sp. strain KC97, an isolate from the Krisuvik hot spring, Iceland, was investigated in terms of its proton binding behavior and charge characteristics by using acid-base titrations, electrophoretic mobility analysis, and transmission electron microscopy. Analysis of titration data with the linear programming optimization method showed that intact filaments were dominated by surface proton binding sites inferred to be carboxyl groups (acid dissociation constants [pK(a)] between 5.0 and 6.2) and amine groups (mean pK(a) of 8.9). Sheath material isolated by using lysozyme and sodium dodecyl sulfate generated pK(a) spectra similarly dominated by carboxyls (pK(a) of 4.6 to 6.1) and amines (pK(a) of 8.1 to 9.2). In both intact filaments and isolated sheath material, the lower ligand concentrations at mid-pK(a) values were ascribed to phosphoryl groups. Whole filaments and isolated sheath material displayed total reactive-site densities of 80.3 x 10(-5) and 12.3 x 10(-5) mol/g (dry mass) of cyanobacteria, respectively, implying that much of the surface reactivity of this microorganism is located on the cell wall and not the sheath. This is corroborated by electrophoretic mobility measurements that showed that the sheath has a net neutral charge at mid-pHs. In contrast, unsheathed cells exhibited a stronger negative-charge characteristic. Additionally, transmission electron microscopy analysis of ultrathin sections stained with heavy metals further demonstrated that most of the reactive binding sites are located upon the cell wall. Thus, the cell surface reactivity of Calothrix sp. strain KC97 can be described as a dual layer composed of a highly reactive cell wall enclosed within a poorly reactive sheath.

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