Characterization of the Osmoprotectant Transporter OpuC from Pseudomonas syringae and Demonstration that Cystathionine-β-Synthase Domains Are Required for Its Osmoregulatory Function

Chiliang Chen, Iowa State University
Gwyn A. Beattie, Iowa State University

This article is from Journal of Bacteriology 189 (2007): 6901, doi: 10.1128/JB.00763-07. Posted with permission.


The plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae may cope with osmotic stress on plants, in part, by importing osmoprotective compounds. In this study, we found that P. syringae pv. tomato strain DC3000 was distinct from most bacterial species in deriving greater osmoprotection from exogenous choline than from glycine betaine. This superior osmoprotection was correlated with a higher capacity for uptake of choline than for uptake of glycine betaine. Of four putative osmoregulatory ABC transporters in DC3000, one, designated OpuC, functioned as the primary or sole transporter for glycine betaine and as one of multiple transporters for choline under high osmolarity. Surprisingly, the homolog of the well-characterized ProU transporter from Escherichia coli and Salmonella entericaserovar Typhimurium did not function in osmoprotection. The P. syringae pv. tomato OpuC transporter was more closely related to the Bacillus subtilis andListeria monocytogenes OpuC transporters than to known osmoprotectant transporters in gram-negative bacteria based on sequence similarity and genetic arrangement. The P. syringae pv. tomato OpuC transporter had a high affinity for glycine betaine, a low affinity for choline, and a broad substrate specificity that included acetylcholine, carnitine, and proline betaine. Tandem cystathionine-β-synthase (CBS) domains in the ATP-binding component of OpuC were required for transporter function. The presence of these CBS domains was correlated with osmoregulatory function among the putative transporters examined in DC3000 and was found to be predictive of functional osmoregulatory transporters in other pseudomonads. These results provide the first functional evaluation of an osmoprotectant transporter in a Pseudomonas species and demonstrate the usefulness of the CBS domains as predictors of osmoregulatory activity.