Proteomic analysis of an unculturable bacterial endosymbiont (Blochmannia) reveals high abundance of chaperonins and biosynthetic enzymes.
Many insect groups have coevolved with bacterial endosymbionts that live within specialized host cells. As a salient example, ants in the tribe Camponotini rely on Blochmannia, an intracellular bacterial mutualist that synthesizes amino acids and recycles nitrogen for the host. We performed a shotgun, label-free, LC/MS/MS quantitative proteomic analysis to investigate the proteome of Blochmannia associated with Camponotus chromaiodes. We identified more than 330 Blochmannia proteins, or 54% coverage of the predicted proteome, as well as 244 Camponotus proteins. Using the average intensity of the top 3 "best flier" peptides along with spiking of a surrogate standard at a known concentration, we estimated the concentration (fmol/μg) of those proteins with confident identification. The estimated dynamic range of Blochmannia protein abundance spanned 3 orders of magnitude and covered diverse functional categories, with particularly high representation of metabolism, information transfer, and chaperones. GroEL, the most abundant protein, totaled 6% of Blochmannia protein abundance. Biosynthesis of essential amino acids, fatty acids, and nucleotides, and sulfate assimilation had disproportionately high coverage in the proteome, further supporting a nutritional role of the symbiosis. This first quantitative proteomic analysis of an ant endosymbiont illustrates a promising approach to study the functional basis of intimate symbioses.
Fan, Y; Thompson, JW; Dubois, LG; Moseley, MA; Wernegreen, JJ
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