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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Biochemical and physiological characterization of the GTP-binding protein Obg of Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Smitha J Sasindran, Sankaralingam Saikolappan, Virginia L Scofield and Subramanian Dhandayuthapani*

Author Affiliations

Regional Academic Health Center and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Edinburg, Texas, 78541, USA

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BMC Microbiology 2011, 11:43  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-43

Published: 25 February 2011

Abstract

Background

Obg is a highly conserved GTP-binding protein that has homologues in bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes. In bacteria, Obg proteins are essential for growth, and they participate in spore formation, stress adaptation, ribosome assembly and chromosomal partitioning. This study was undertaken to investigate the biochemical and physiological characteristics of Obg in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis in humans.

Results

We overexpressed M. tuberculosis Obg in Escherichia coli and then purified the protein. This protein binds to, hydrolyzes and is phosphorylated with GTP. An anti-Obg antiserum, raised against the purified Obg, detects a 55 kDa protein in immunoblots of M. tuberculosis extracts. Immunoblotting also discloses that cultured M. tuberculosis cells contain increased amounts of Obg in the late log phase and in the stationary phase. Obg is also associated with ribosomes in M. tuberculosis, and it is distributed to all three ribosomal fractions (30 S, 50 S and 70 S). Finally, yeast two-hybrid analysis reveals that Obg interacts with the stress protein UsfX, indicating that M. tuberculosis Obg, like other bacterial Obgs, is a stress related protein.

Conclusions

Although its GTP-hydrolyzing and phosphorylating activities resemble those of other bacterial Obg homologues, M. tuberculosis Obg differs from them in these respects: (a) preferential association with the bacterial membrane; (b) association with all three ribosomal subunits, and (c) binding to the stress protein UsfX, rather than to RelA. Generation of mutant alleles of Obg of M. tuberculosis, and their characterization in vivo, may provide additional insights regarding its role in this important human pathogen.