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Res Microbiol. 2005 Mar;156(2):219-24. Epub 2004 Dec 15.

Cloning and characterization of the hsp 18.55 gene, a new member of the small heat shock gene family isolated from wine Lactobacillus plantarum.

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Department of Food Science, Foggia University, via Napoli 25, 71100 Foggia, Italy.


Using a molecular approach based on PCR, RT-PCR and northern blot analysis, a new member of the small heat shock family of wine, Lactobacillus plantarum, was cloned and characterized. The protein sequence deduced from the isolated gene had a calculated molecular mass of 18.548 kDa and was therefore named HSP 18.55. The gene codes for a protein homologous to the previously characterized HSP 19.3 and HSP 18.5 and is co-transcribed with an upstream gene of unknown function. Analysis of the 5' flanking region of the hsp 18.55 gene revealed the presence of putative cis elements able to bind alternative sigma factor sigma(B). Based on its structure, the gene was classified as belonging to class II of the heat shock genes according to Bacillus subtilis nomenclature for shock-responsive genes. Expression of the newly identified small heat shock gene, analyzed by RT-PCR and northern blot analysis, was induced by a wide range of abiotic stresses including heat, cold and ethanol, suggesting that the small family of heat shock genes is probably involved in the general stress response in wine L. plantarum. Moreover, the expression of hsp 18.5, hsp 18.55 and hsp 19.3 genes, analyzed over a complete culture cycle, revealed that early growing cells contained substantial amounts of hsp 18.5, hsp 18.55 and hsp 19.3 mRNAs, which rapidly declined upon entry into stationary phase.

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