Tracing the role of R-bodies in the killer trait: absence of toxicity of R-body producing recombinant E. coli on paramecia.

M. Schrallhammer, S. Galati, J. Altenbuchner, M. Schweikert, H. Görtz, G. Petroni
European journal of protistology. 2012 48:4 PubMed: 22356923

Abstract: R-bodies are coiled proteinaceous ribbons produced by Paramecium endosymbionts belonging to the genus Caedibacter. These intracellular bacteria confer upon their hosts a phenomenon called the killer trait. It is the ability to kill symbiont-free competitors called sensitives. The R-body is the crucial element of this process, but despite many efforts, the actual role of R-bodies in killing sensitive paramecia is still not satisfactory clarified. The open question is whether the R-body acts as transmitter for a yet unidentified toxin or whether it directly kills sensitive paramecia having intrinsic cytotoxic effects. In the present study, this problem is addressed by heterologous expression of Caedibacter taeniospiralis R-body in Escherichia coli followed by a detailed analysis of its potential intrinsic toxic effect on feeding sensitive Paramecium tetraurelia. Using this approach, we can exclude any eventual effects of additional, unidentified factors produced by C. taeniospiralis and thus observe the impact of the recombinant R-body itself. No cytotoxic effects of recombinant R-bodies were detected following this approach, strengthening the hypothesis that R-bodies act as releasing system for an unidentified C. taeniospiralis toxin.

Described groups:

  • ECF237

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