Proteogenomics of a saxitoxin-producing and non-toxic strain of Anabaena circinalis (cyanobacteria) in response to extracellular NaCl and phosphate depletion.
The filamentous cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 forms heterocysts in a semiregular pattern when it is grown on N2 as the sole nitrogen source. The transition from vegetative cells to heterocysts requires marked metabolic and morphological changes. We show that a trimeric pore-forming outer membrane beta-barrel protein belonging to the TolC family, Alr2887, is up-regulated in developing heterocysts and is essential for diazotrophic growth. Mutants defective in Alr2887 did not form the specific glycolipid layer of the heterocyst cell wall, which is necessary to protect nitrogenase from external oxygen. Comparison of the glycolipid contents of wild-type and mutant cells indicated that the protein is not involved in the synthesis of glycolipids but might instead serve as an exporter for the glycolipid moieties or enzymes involved in glycolipid attachment. We propose that Alr2887, together with an ABC transporter like DevBCA, is part of a protein export system essential for assembly of the heterocyst glycolipid layer. We designate the alr2887 gene hgdD (heterocyst glycolipid deposition protein).