Identification of organelles in bacteria similar to acidocalcisomes of unicellular eukaryotes

Manfredo Seufferheld, Mauricio C.F. Vieira, Felix A. Ruiz, Claudia O. Rodrigues, Silvia N.J. Moreno, Roberto Docampo

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123 Scopus citations


Acidocalcisomes are acidic calcium storage compartments described in several unicellular eukaryotes, including trypanosomatid and apicomplexan parasites, algae, and slime molds. In this work, we report that the volutin granules of Agrobacterium tumefaciens possess properties similar to the acidocalcisomes. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that each intracellular granule was surrounded by a membrane. X-ray microanalysis of the volutin granules showed large amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Calcium in the volutin granules increased when the bacteria were incubated at high extracellular calcium concentration. Immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy, using antisera raised against peptide sequences conserved in the A. tumefaciens proton pyrophosphatase, indicated localization in intracellular vacuoles. Purification of the volutin granules using iodixanol density gradients indicated a preferential localization of the pyrophosphatase activity in addition to high concentrations of phosphate, pyrophosphate, short- and long-chain polyphosphate, but lack of markers of the plasma membrane. The pyrophosphatase activity was potassium-insensitive and inhibited by the pyrophosphate analogs, amynomethylenediphosphonate and imidodiphosphate, by dicyclohexylcarbodiimide, and by the thiol reagent N-ethylmaleimide. Polyphosphate was also localized to the volutin granules by 4′, 6′-diamino-2-phenylindole staining. The organelles were acidic, as demonstrated by staining with LysoSensor blue DND-167, a dye especially used to detect very acidic compartments in cells, and cycloprodigiosin, a compound isolated from a marine bacterium that has been shown to uncouple proton pyrophosphatase activity acting as a chloride/proton symport. The results suggest that acidocalcisomes arose before the prokaryotic and eukaryotic lineages diverged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29971-29978
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 8 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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