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Arch Microbiol. 2004 Jan;181(1):1-7. Epub 2003 Dec 11.

Molecular analysis of a subcellular compartment: the magnetosome membrane in Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense.

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Max-Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstrasse 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany.


The ability of magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) to orient and migrate along magnetic field lines is based on magnetosomes, which are membrane-enclosed intracellular crystals of a magnetic iron mineral. Magnetosome biomineralization is achieved by a process involving control over the accumulation of iron and deposition of the magnetic particle, which has a specific morphology, within a vesicle provided by the magnetosome membrane. In Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense, the magnetosome membrane has a distinct biochemical composition and comprises a complex and specific subset of magnetosome membrane proteins (MMPs). Classes of MMPs include those with presumed function in magnetosome-directed uptake and binding of iron, nucleation of crystal growth, and the assembly of magnetosome membrane multiprotein complexes. Other MMPs comprise protein families of so far unknown function, which apparently are conserved between all other MTB. The mam and mms genes encode most of the MMPs and are clustered within several operons, which are part of a large, unstable genomic region constituting a putative magnetosome island. Current research is directed towards the biochemical and genetic analysis of MMP functions in magnetite biomineralization as well as their expression and localization during growth.

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