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PLoS One. 2010 Feb 10;5(2):e9151. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009151.

A second actin-like MamK protein in Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1 encoded outside the genomic magnetosome island.

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Laboratoire de Bioénergétique Cellulaire - Institut de Biologie Environnementale et Biotechnologie, Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, France.


Magnetotactic bacteria are able to swim navigating along geomagnetic field lines. They synthesize ferromagnetic nanocrystals that are embedded in cytoplasmic membrane invaginations forming magnetosomes. Regularly aligned in the cytoplasm along cytoskeleton filaments, the magnetosome chain effectively forms a compass needle bestowing on bacteria their magnetotactic behaviour. A large genomic island, conserved among magnetotactic bacteria, contains the genes potentially involved in magnetosome formation. One of the genes, mamK has been described as encoding a prokaryotic actin-like protein which when it polymerizes forms in the cytoplasm filamentous structures that provide the scaffold for magnetosome alignment. Here, we have identified a series of genes highly similar to the mam genes in the genome of Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1. The newly annotated genes are clustered in a genomic islet distinct and distant from the known magnetosome genomic island and most probably acquired by lateral gene transfer rather than duplication. We focused on a mamK-like gene whose product shares 54.5% identity with the actin-like MamK. Filament bundles of polymerized MamK-like protein were observed in vitro with electron microscopy and in vivo in E. coli cells expressing MamK-like-Venus fusions by fluorescence microscopy. In addition, we demonstrate that mamK-like is transcribed in AMB-1 wild-type and DeltamamK mutant cells and that the actin-like filamentous structures observed in the DeltamamK strain are probably MamK-like polymers. Thus MamK-like is a new member of the prokaryotic actin-like family. This is the first evidence of a functional mam gene encoded outside the magnetosome genomic island.

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