Magnetic bacteria produce intracellular vesicles that envelope single domain magnetite crystals. Although many proteins are present in this intracellular vesicle membrane, five are specific to this membrane. A 16-kDa protein, designated Mms16, is the most abundant of the magnetosome-specific proteins, and to establish its function we cloned and sequenced its gene from Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1. This was achieved by determination of the N-terminal amino acid sequence of the protein following two dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and sequencing of the gene was performed by gene walking using anchored polymerase chain reaction. Mms16 contains a putative ATP/GTP binding motif (P-loop). Recombinant Mms16 with a hemagglutinin tag, was expressed in Escherichia coli and purified. Recombinant Mms16 protein could bind GTP and showed GTPase activity. GTP was the preferred substrate for Mms16-catalyzed nucleotide triphosphate hydrolysis. These results suggest that a novel protein specifically localized on the magnetic particle membrane, Mms16, is a GTPase. Mms16 protein showed similar characteristics to small GTPases involved in the formation of intracellular vesicles. Furthermore, addition of the GTPase inhibitor AIF4- also inhibited magnetic particle synthesis, suggesting that GTPase is required for magnetic particles synthesis.
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