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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Dissolution and immunochemical analysis of the sheath of the archaeobacterium Methanospirillum hungatei GP1.

The sheath of Methanospirillum hungatei GP1 was degraded by three dissolution techniques, which produced a range of soluble products. By using 0.05 M L-arginine buffer (pH 12.6) at 90 degrees C for 10 min, 74% (dry weight) of the sheath was dissolved; however, the solubilized polypeptides were extensively degraded. Treatment with 2% beta-mercaptoethanol and 2% sodium dodecyl sulfate at 90 degrees C in 0.05 M 2(N-cyclohexylamino)ethanesulfonic acid (CHES) buffer (pH 9.0) solubilized 42% (dry weight) of the sheath as a group of polypeptides of 30 to 40 kDa. At 100 degrees C for 2 h, 5% beta-mercaptoethanol, 2% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), and 20 mM EDTA released 74% of the sheath's mass as a group of polypeptides of 10 to 40 kDa. All solubilized products were examined by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and a range of high- and low-molecular-weight polypeptides was identified. None were glycoproteins. Hoops, which comprise the sheath's structure, were seen by electron microscopy after all of the attempted dissolutions. Monoclonal antibodies were produced against the 10- to 40-kDa range of solubilized products and against the approximately 40-kDa polypeptides, and polyclonal antiserum was produced against an 18-kDa polypeptide. These immunological markers were used in Western immunoblotting and protein A-colloidal gold-antibody probing by electron microscopy to identify the structural location of the various polypeptides. Native sheath, which possesses 2.8-nm particles on its outer surface (M. Stewart, T.J. Beveridge, and G.D. Sprott, J. Mol. Biol. 183:509-515, 1985; P.J. Shaw, G.J. Hills, J.A. Henwood, J.E. Harris, and D.B. Archer, J. Bacteriol. 161:750-757, 1985), presented a gentle wave-form surface in platinum-shadowed specimens. In contrast, the inner face of the sheath was highlighted by ridges lying perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the sheath and likely corresponded to hoop boundaries. Both the polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies were specific for different faces; polyclonal antibodies labeled the inner face, whereas monoclonal antibodies labeled the outer face. Accordingly, the apparent asymmetry of structure between the two faces of the sheath can be correlated by our immunochemical probing with a distinct asymmetry in the distribution of exposed polypeptides between the faces. The possible implications of this asymmetry for growth and maturation of the sheath are explained.[1]


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