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Mol Microbiol. 2005 Feb;55(3):750-63.

Mechanism of lipid-body formation in prokaryotes: how bacteria fatten up.

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1
Institut für Molekulare Mikrobiologie und Biotechnologie, Universitätsklinikum Münster, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, D-48149 Münster, Germany.

Abstract

Neutral lipid accumulation is frequently observed in some Gram-negative prokaryotes like Acinetobacter sp. and most actinomycetes, including the pathogenic Mycobacterium tuberculosis and antibiotic producing streptomycetes. We examined the formation of wax ester- and triacylglycerol (TAG)-bodies in Acinetobacter calcoaceticus and Rhodococcus opacus using microscopic, immunological and biophysical methods. A general model for prokaryotic lipid-body formation is proposed, clearly differing from the current models for the formation of lipid inclusions in eukaryotes and of poly(hydroxyalkanoic acid) (PHA) inclusions in prokaryotes. Formation of lipid-bodies starts with the docking of wax ester synthase/acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase (WS/DGAT) to the cytoplasm membrane. Both, analyses of in vivo and in vitro lipid-body synthesis, demonstrated the formation of small lipid droplets (SLDs), which remain bound to the membrane-associated enzyme. SLDs conglomerated subsequently to membrane-bound lipid-prebodies which are then released into the cytoplasm. The formation of matured lipid-bodies in the cytoplasm occurred by means of coalescence of SLDs inside the lipid prebodies, which are surrounded by a half-unit membrane of phospholipids.

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