Slr4, a newly identified S‐layer protein from marine Gammaproteobacteria, is a major biofilm matrix component
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S-layers are paracrystalline proteinaceous lattices that surround prokaryotic cells, forming a critical interface between the cells and their extracellular environment. Here, we report the discovery of a novel S-layer protein present in the Gram-negative marine organism, Pseudoalteromonas tunicata D2. An uncharacterized protein (EAR28894) was identified as the most abundant protein in planktonic cultures and biofilms. Bioinformatic methods predicted a beta-helical structure for EAR28894 similar to the Caulobacter S-layer protein, RsaA, despite sharing less than 20% sequence identity. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that purified EAR28894 protein assembled into paracrystalline sheets with a unique square lattice symmetry and a unit cell spacing of ~9.1 nm. An S-layer was found surrounding the outer membrane in wild-type cells and completely removed from cells in an EAR28894 deletion mutant. S-layer material also appeared to be "shed" from wild-type cells and was highly abundant in the extracellular matrix where it is associated with outer membrane vesicles and other matrix components. EAR28894 and its homologs form a new family of S-layer proteins that are widely distributed in Gammaproteobacteria including species of Pseudoalteromonas and Vibrio, and found exclusively in marine metagenomes. We propose the name Slr4 for this novel protein family.
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