Classification of hyper-variable Corynebacterium glutamicum surface-layer proteins by sequence analyses and atomic force microscopy

Nicole Hansmeier, Frank W. Bartels, Robert Ros, Dario Anselmetti, Andreas Tauch, Alfred Pühler, Jörn Kalinowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The structural S-layer proteins of 28 different Corynebacterium glutamicum isolates have been analyzed systematically. Treatment of whole C. glutamicum cells with detergents resulted in the isolation of S-layer proteins with different apparent molecular masses, ranging in size from 55 to 66 kDa. The S-layer genes analyzed were characterized by coding regions ranging from 1473 to 1533 nucleotides coding for S-layer proteins with a size of 490-510 amino acids. Using PCR techniques, the corresponding S-layer genes of the 28 C. glutamicum isolates were all cloned and sequenced. The deduced amino acid sequences of the S-layer proteins showed identities between 69 and 98% and could be grouped into five phylogenetic classes. Furthermore, sequence analyses indicated that the S-layer proteins of the analyzed C. glutamicum isolates exhibit a mosaic structure of highly conserved and highly variable regions. Several conserved regions were assumed to play a key role in the formation of the C. glutamicum S-layers. Especially the N-terminal signal peptides and the C-terminal anchor sequences of the S-layer proteins showed a nearly perfect amino acid sequence conservation. Analyses by atomic force microscopy revealed a committed hexagonal structure. Morphological diversity of the C. glutamicum S-layers was observed in a class-specific unit cell dimension (ranging from 15.2 to 17.4 nm), which correlates with the sequence similarity-based classification. It could be demonstrated that differences in the primary structure of the S-layer proteins were reflected by the S-layer morphology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-193
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 26 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Cell envelope
  • Corynebacterium glutamicum
  • Diversity
  • Hexagonal symmetry
  • S-layer protein classification
  • Surface-layer
  • Unit cell dimension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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