CslA and GlxA from Streptomyces lividans form a functional cellulose synthase complex

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2024 Apr 17;90(4):e0208723. doi: 10.1128/aem.02087-23. Epub 2024 Apr 1.


Filamentous growth of streptomycetes coincides with the synthesis and deposition of an uncharacterized protective glucan at hyphal tips. Synthesis of this glucan depends on the integral membrane protein CslA and the radical copper oxidase GlxA, which are part of a presumably large multiprotein complex operating at growing tips. Here, we show that CslA and GlxA interact by forming a protein complex that is sufficient to synthesize cellulose in vitro. Mass spectrometry analysis revealed that the purified complex produces cellulose chains with a degree of polymerization of at least 80 residues. Truncation analyses demonstrated that the removal of a significant extracellular segment of GlxA had no impact on complex formation, but significantly diminished activity of CslA. Altogether, our work demonstrates that CslA and GlxA form the active core of the cellulose synthase complex and provide molecular insights into a unique cellulose biosynthesis system that is conserved in streptomycetes.

Importance: Cellulose stands out as the most abundant polysaccharide on Earth. While the synthesis of this polysaccharide has been extensively studied in plants and Gram-negative bacteria, the mechanisms in Gram-positive bacteria have remained largely unknown. Our research unveils a novel cellulose synthase complex formed by the interaction between the cellulose synthase-like protein CslA and the radical copper oxidase GlxA from Streptomyces lividans, a soil-dwelling Gram-positive bacterium. This discovery provides molecular insights into the distinctive cellulose biosynthesis machinery. Beyond expanding our understanding of cellulose biosynthesis, this study also opens avenues for exploring biotechnological applications and ecological roles of cellulose in Gram-positive bacteria, thereby contributing to the broader field of microbial cellulose biosynthesis and biofilm research.

Keywords: CslA; GlxA; Streptomyces; bacterial polysaccharide; cellulose synthesis.