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Agrobacterium tumefaciens Growth Pole Ring Protein: C Terminus and Internal Apolipoprotein Homologous Domains Are Essential for Function and Subcellular Localization.


The Agrobacterium growth pole ring (GPR) protein forms a hexameric ring at the growth pole (GP) that is essential for polar growth. GPR is large (2,115 amino acids) and contains 1,700 amino acids of continuous α-helices. To dissect potential GPR functional domains, we created deletions of regions with similarity to human apolipoprotein A-IV (396 amino acids), itself composed of α-helical domains. We also tested deletions of the GPR C terminus. Deletions were inducibly expressed as green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion proteins and tested for merodiploid interference with wild-type (WT) GPR function, for partial function in cells lacking GPR, and for formation of paired fluorescent foci (indicative of hexameric rings) at the GP. Deletion of domains similar to human apolipoprotein A-IV in GPR caused defects in cell morphology when expressed in trans to WT GPR and provided only partial complementation to cells lacking GPR. Agrobacterium-specific domains A-IV-1 and A-IV-4 contain predicted coiled coil (CC) regions of 21 amino acids; deletion of CC regions produced severe defects in cell morphology in the interference assay. Mutants that produced the most severe effects on cell shape also failed to form paired polar foci. Modeling of A-IV-1 and A-IV-4 reveals significant similarity to the solved structure of human apolipoprotein A-IV. GPR C-terminal deletions profoundly blocked complementation. Finally, peptidoglycan (PG) synthesis is abnormally localized circumferentially in cells lacking GPR. The results support the hypothesis that GPR plays essential roles as an organizing center for membrane and PG synthesis during polar growth.IMPORTANCE Bacterial growth and division are extensively studied in model systems (Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, and Caulobacter crescentus) that grow by dispersed insertion of new cell wall material along the length of the cell. An alternative growth mode-polar growth-is used by some Actinomycetales and Proteobacteria species. The latter phylum includes the family Rhizobiaceae, in which many species, including Agrobacterium tumefaciens, exhibit polar growth. Current research aims to identify growth pole (GP) factors. The Agrobacterium growth pole ring (GPR) protein is essential for polar growth and forms a striking hexameric ring structure at the GP. GPR is long (2,115 amino acids), and little is known about regions essential for structure or function. Genetic analyses demonstrate that the C terminus of GPR, and two internal regions with homology to human apolipoproteins (that sequester lipids), are essential for GPR function and localization to the GP. We hypothesize that GPR is an organizing center for membrane and cell wall synthesis during polar growth.

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