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Mol Microbiol. 2011 Jan;79(2):402-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2010.07450.x. Epub 2010 Nov 16.

Nucleoid-associated PhaF phasin drives intracellular location and segregation of polyhydroxyalkanoate granules in Pseudomonas putida KT2442.

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Department of Environmental Biology, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, CSIC, C/Ramiro de Maeztu, 9, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


The PhaF is a nucleoid-associated like protein of Pseudomonas putida KT2442 involved in the polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) metabolism. Its primary structure shows two modular domains; the N-terminal PHA granule-binding domain (phasin domain) and the C-terminal half containing AAKP-like tandem repeats characteristic of the histone H1 family. Although the PhaF binding to PHA granules and its role as transcriptional regulator have been previously demonstrated, the cell physiology meaning of these properties remains unknown. This work demonstrates that PhaF plays a crucial role in granule localization within the cell. TEM and flow cytometry studies of cells producing granules at early growth stage demonstrated that PhaF directs the PHA granules to the centre of the cells, forming a characteristic needle array. Our studies demonstrated the existence of two markedly different cell populations in the strain lacking PhaF protein, i.e. cells with and without PHA. Complementation studies definitively demonstrated a key role of PhaF in granule segregation during the cell division ensuring the equal distribution of granules between daughter cells. In vitro studies showed that PhaF binds DNA through its C-terminal domain in a non-specific manner. All these findings suggested a main role of PhaF in PHA apparatus through interactions with the segregating chromosome.

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