Living organisms produce finely tuned biomineral architectures with the aid of biomineral-associated proteins. The functional amino acid residues in these proteins have been previously identified using in vitro and in silico experimentation in different biomineralization systems. However, the investigation in living organisms is limited owing to the difficulty in establishing appropriate genetic techniques. Mms6 protein, isolated from the surface of magnetite crystals synthesized in magnetotactic bacteria, was shown to play a key role in the regulation of crystal morphology. In this study, we have demonstrated a defect in the specific region or substituted acidic amino acid residues in the Mms6 protein for observing their effect on magnetite biomineralization in vivo. Analysis of the gene deletion mutants and transformants of Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1 expressing partially truncated Mms6 protein revealed that deletions in the N-terminal or C-terminal regions disrupted proper protein localization to the magnetite surface, resulting in a change in the crystal morphology. Moreover, single amino acid substitutions at Asp123, Glu124, or Glu125 in the C-terminal region of Mms6 clearly indicated that these amino acid residues had a direct impact on magnetite crystal morphology. Thus, these consecutive acidic amino acid residues were found to be core residues regulating magnetite crystal morphology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas