Studies of subcellular localization and complex formation of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens transport ATPase VirB11

Svetlana Lazarova Rashkova, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The VirB11 ATPase is an essential component of an Agrobacterium tumefaciens type IV bacterial secretion system that transfers oncogenic nucleoprotein complexes to susceptible plant cells. This dissertation investigates the subcellular localization and homo-oligomeric state of the VirB11 ATPase in order to provide insights about the assembly of the protein as a subunit of this membrane-associated transfer system. Subcellular fractionation studies and quantitative immunoblot analysis demonstrated that $\sim$30% of VirB11 partitioned as soluble protein and $\sim$70% was tightly associated with the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane. No differences were detected in VirB11 subcellular localization and membrane association in the presence or absence of other transport system components. Mutations in virB11 affecting protein function were mapped near the amino terminus, just upstream of a region encoding a Walker 'A' nucleotide-binding site, and within the Walker 'A' motif partitioned almost exclusively with the cytoplasmic membrane, suggesting that an activity associated with nucleotide binding could modulate the affinity of VirB11 for the cytoplasmic membrane. Merodiploid analysis of VirB11 mutant and truncation derivatives provided strong evidence that VirB11 functions as a homo- or heteromultimer and that the C-terminal half of VirB11 contains a protein interaction domain. A combination of biochemical and molecular genetic approaches suggested that VirB11 and the green fluorescence protein (GFP) formed a mixed multimer as demonstrated by immunoprecipitation experiments with anti-GFP antibodies. Second, a hybrid protein composed of VirB11 fused to the N-terminal DNA-binding domain of bacteriophage $\lambda$ cI repressor conferred immunity to $\lambda$ superinfection, demonstrating that VirB11 self-association promotes dimerization of the chimeric repressor. A conserved Walker 'A' motif, though required for VirB11 function in T-complex export, was not necessary for VirB11 self-association. Sequences in both the N- and the C-terminal halves of the protein were found to contribute to self-association of the full length protein. Chemical cross-linking experiments with His$\sb6$ tagged VirB11 suggested that VirB11 probably assembles into a higher order homo-oligomeric complex.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Rashkova, Svetlana Lazarova, "Studies of subcellular localization and complex formation of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens transport ATPase VirB11" (1998). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9909444.