An extracellular glycoprotein is implicated in cell-cell contacts in the toxic cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7806

J Bacteriol. 2008 Apr;190(8):2871-9. doi: 10.1128/JB.01867-07. Epub 2008 Feb 15.


Microcystins are the most common cyanobacterial toxins found in freshwater lakes and reservoirs throughout the world. They are frequently produced by the unicellular, colonial cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa; however, the role of the peptide for the producing organism is poorly understood. Differences in the cellular aggregation of M. aeruginosa PCC 7806 and a microcystin-deficient Delta mcyB mutant guided the discovery of a surface-exposed protein that shows increased abundance in PCC 7806 mutants deficient in microcystin production compared to the abundance of this protein in the wild type. Mass spectrometric and immunoblot analyses revealed that the protein, designated microcystin-related protein C (MrpC), is posttranslationally glycosylated, suggesting that it may be a potential target of a putative O-glycosyltransferase of the SPINDLY family encoded downstream of the mrpC gene. Immunofluorescence microscopy detected MrpC at the cell surface, suggesting an involvement of the protein in cellular interactions in strain PCC 7806. Further analyses of field samples of Microcystis demonstrated a strain-specific occurrence of MrpC possibly associated with distinct Microcystis colony types. Our results support the implication of microcystin in the colony specificity of and colony formation by Microcystis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial / chemistry
  • Adhesins, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Adhesion / genetics
  • Bacterial Adhesion / physiology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Gene Deletion
  • Glycoproteins / chemistry
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Glycosylation
  • Immunoblotting
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Microcystins / genetics
  • Microcystins / metabolism
  • Microcystis / genetics
  • Microcystis / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Multigene Family
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Glycoproteins
  • Microcystins