Expression of the major gas vesicle protein gene in the halophilic archaebacterium Haloferax mediterranei is modulated by salt

Christoph Englert, Mary C Horne, Felicitas Pfeifer

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59 Scopus citations


In the moderately to extremely halophilic archaebacterium Haloferax mediterranei gas vacuoles are not observed before the stationary phase of growth, and only when the cells are grown in media containing more than 17% total salt. Under the electron microscope, isolated gas vesicles appear as cylindrical structures with conical ends that reach a maximal length of 1.5 μm; this morphology is different from the spindle-shaped gas vesicles found in the Halobacterium halobium wild type which expresses the plasmid-borne p-vac gene, but resembles that of gas vesicles isolated from H. halobium strains expressing the chromosomal c-vac gene. Both the p-vac and the c-vac genes encode very similar structural proteins accounting for the major part of the "membrane" of the respective gas vesicles. The homologous mc-vac gene was isolated from Hf. mediterranei using the p-vac gene as probe. The mc-vac coding region indicates numerous nucleotide differences compared to the p-vac anc c-vac genes; the encoded protein is, however, almost identical to the c-vac gene product. The start point of the 310 nucleotide mc-vac transcript determined by primer extension analysis and S1 mapping was located 20 by upstream of the ATG start codon, which is at the same relative position as found for the other two vac mRNAs. During the growth cycle, mc-vac mRNA was detectable in Hf. mediterranei cells grown in 15% as well as 25% total salt, with a maximal level in the early stationary phase of growth. The relative abundance of mc-vac mRNA in cells grown at 25% salt was sevenfold higher than in cells grown in 15% total salt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-232
Number of pages8
JournalMGG Molecular & General Genetics
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jul 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Gas vacuole
  • Gene expression
  • Salt-dependency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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