Osmotically induced response in representatives of halophilic prokaryotes: the bacterium Halomonas elongata and the archaeon Haloferax volcanii

J Bacteriol. 1997 Sep;179(17):5471-81. doi: 10.1128/jb.179.17.5471-5481.1997.


Haloferax volcanii and Halomonas elongata have been selected as representatives of halophilic Archaea and Bacteria, respectively, to analyze the responses to various osmolarities at the protein synthesis level. We have identified a set of high-salt-related proteins (39, 24, 20, and 15.5 kDa in H. elongata; 70, 68, 48, and 16 kDa in H. volcanii) whose synthesis rates increased with increasing salinities. A different set of proteins (60, 42, 15, and 6 kDa for H. elongata; 63, 44, 34, 18, 17, and 6 kDa for H. volcanii), some unique for low salinities, was induced under low-salt conditions. For both organisms, and especially for the haloarchaeon, adaptation to low-salt conditions involved a stronger and more specific response than adaptation to high-salt conditions, indicating that unique mechanisms may have evolved for low-salinity adaptation. In the case of H. volcanii, proteins with a typical transient response to osmotic shock, induced by both hypo- and hyperosmotic conditions, probably corresponding to described heat shock proteins and showing the characteristics of general stress proteins, have also been identified. Cell recovery after a shift to low salinities was immediate in both organisms. In contrast, adaptation to higher salinities in both cases involved a lag period during which growth and general protein synthesis were halted, although the high-salt-related proteins were induced rapidly. In H. volcanii, this lag period corresponded exactly to the time needed for cells to accumulate adequate intracellular potassium concentrations, while extrusion of potassium after the down-shift was immediate. Thus, reaching osmotic balance must be the main limiting factor for recovery of cell functions after the variation in salinity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Bacterial Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Gram-Negative Aerobic Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Halobacteriaceae / metabolism*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / chemistry
  • Molecular Weight
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Potassium / analysis
  • Sodium Chloride / pharmacology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Potassium