A DNA region of 9kbp contains all genes necessary for gas vesicle synthesis in halophilic archaebacteria

Mary C Horne, C. Englert, C. Wimmer, F. Pfeifer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


We determined the minimal size of the genomic region necessary for gas vesicle synthesis in halophilic archaebacteria by transformation experiments, comparative DNA sequence analysis and investigation of gas vesicle (Vac) mutants. The comparison of the three genomic regions encoding gas vesicles in Halobacterium halobium (p-vac- and c-vac-region) and Haloferax mediterranei (mc-vac-region) indicates high DNA sequence similarity throughout a contiguous sequence of 9kbp. In each case, this area encompassed at least 13 open reading frames (ORFs). Ten of these ORFs (gvpD to gvpM) were located 5′ to the vac gene encoding the major gas vesicle protein, but were transcribed from the opposite strand. At least two ORFs (gvpC, and gvpN) were located 3′ to each vac gene and transcribed from the same strand as the respective vac gene. In the p-vac-region present on plasmid pHH1 these ORFs were transcribed as at least three units, one transcript encompassing gvpD-gvpE, the second encompassing ORFs gvpF to gvpM, and the third unit comprising the ORFs located 3′ to the p-vac gene. In H. halobium Vac mutants copies of the insertion elements ISH2, ISH23, ISH26 or ISH27 were found to be integrated throughout the p-vac-region. The de novo synthesis of gas vesicles was tested by transformation of the Vac-negative species, Haloferax volcanii, with various subfragments of the mc-vac- or p-vac-region cloned into vector plasmids. In contrast to a fragment containing the entire 9 kbp region, none of the subfragments tested was sufficient to promote gas vesicle synthesis. However, gas vesicle synthesis could be restored in each Vac mutant containing an ISH element when the entire transcription unit encompassing the mutated gene on pHH1 was present in the wild-type form on the vector construct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1159-1174
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology


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