Identification of the Actin-Binding Region and Binding to Host Plant Apple Actin of Immunodominant Transmembrane Protein of ‘Candidatus Phytoplasma mali’

Boonrod et al. (2023). International Journal of Molecular Sciences 24 (2)
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Catalysis Computer Science Applications General Medicine Inorganic Chemistry Molecular Biology Organic Chemistry Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Spectroscopy
‘Candidatus Phytoplasma mali’ (‘Ca. P. mali’) has only one major membrane protein, the immunodominant membrane protein (Imp), which is regarded as being close to the ancestor of all phytoplasma immunodominant membrane proteins. Imp binds to actin and possibly facilitates its movement in the plant or insect host cells. However, protein sequences of Imp are quite diverse among phytoplasma species, thus resulting in difficulties in identifying conserved domains across species. In this work, we compare Imp protein sequences of ‘Ca. P. mali’ strain PM19 (Imp-PM19) with Imp of different strains of ‘Ca. P. mali’ and identify its actin-binding domain. Moreover, we show that Imp binds to the actin of apple (Malus x domestica), which is the host plant of ‘Ca. P. mali’. Using molecular and scanning force spectroscopy analysis, we find that the actin-binding domain of Imp-PM19 contains a highly positively charged amino acid cluster. Our result could allow investigating a possible correlation between Imp variants and the infectivity of the corresponding ‘Ca. P. mali’ isolates.
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