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Protein Expression Profiles in an Endosymbiotic Cyanobacterium Revealed by a Proteomic Approach

November 2006 , Volume 19 , Number  11
Pages  1,251 - 1,261

Martin Ekman , 1 Petter Tollbäck , 2 Johan Klint , 1 and Birgitta Bergman 1

1Department of Botany, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden; 2Stockholm University Proteomics Facility, Department of Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

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Accepted 26 June 2006.

Molecular mechanisms behind adaptations in the cyano-bacterium (Nostoc sp.) to a life in endosymbiosis with plants are still not clarified, nor are the interactions between the partners. To get further insights, the proteome of a Nostoc strain, freshly isolated from the symbiotic gland tissue of the angiosperm Gunnera manicata Linden, was analyzed and compared with the proteome of the same strain when free-living. Extracted proteins were separated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and were identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry combined with tandem mass spectrometry. Even when the higher percentage of differentiated cells (heterocysts) in symbiosis was compensated for, the majority of the proteins detected in the symbiotic cyanobacteria were present in the free-living counterpart, indicating that most cellular processes were common for both stages. However, differential expression profiling revealed a significant number of proteins to be down-regulated or missing in the symbiotic stage, while others were more abundant or only expressed in symbiosis. The differential protein expression was primarily connected to i) cell envelope-associated processes, including proteins involved in exopolysaccharide synthesis and surface and membrane associated proteins, ii) to changes in growth and metabolic activities (C and N), including upregulation of nitrogenase and proteins involved in the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway and downregu-lation of Calvin cycle enzymes, and iii) to the dark, micro-aerobic conditions offered inside the Gunnera gland cells, including changes in relative phycobiliprotein concentrations. This is the first comprehensive analysis of proteins in the symbiotic state.

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society