The Arctic plant growth-promoting rhizobacterium Pseudomonas putida GR12-2 secretes an antifreeze protein (AFP) that promotes survival at subzero temperatures. The AFP is unusual in that it also exhibits a low level of ice nucleation activity. A DNA fragment with an open reading frame encoding 473 amino acids was cloned by PCR and inverse PCR using primers designed from partial amino acid sequences of the isolated AFP. The predicted gene product, AfpA, had a molecular mass of 47.3 kDa, a pI of 3.51, and no previously known function. Although AfpA is a secreted protein, it lacked an N-terminal signal peptide and was shown by sequence analysis to have two possible secretion systems: a hemolysin-like, calcium-binding secretion domain and a type V autotransporter domain found in gram-negative bacteria. Expression of afpA in Escherichia coli yielded an intracellular 72-kDa protein modified with both sugars and lipids that exhibited lower levels of antifreeze and ice nucleation activities than the native protein. The 164-kDa AFP previously purified from P. putida GR12-2 was a lipoglycoprotein, and the carbohydrate was required for ice nucleation activity. Therefore, the recombinant protein may not have been properly posttranslationally modified. The AfpA sequence was most similar to cell wall-associated proteins and less similar to ice nucleation proteins (INPs). Hydropathy plots revealed that the amino acid sequence of AfpA was more hydrophobic than those of the INPs in the domain that forms the ice template, thus suggesting that AFPs and INPs interact differently with ice. To our knowledge, this is the first gene encoding a protein with both antifreeze and ice nucleation activities to be isolated and characterized.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology