Species Widely Distributed in Halophilic Archaea Exhibit Opsin-Mediated Inhibition of Bacterioruberin Biosynthesis.


Department of Biology, Colby College, Waterville, Maine, USA [Email]


Halophilic Archaea are a distinctive pink color due to a carotenoid pigment called bacterioruberin. To sense or utilize light, many halophilic Archaea also produce rhodopsins, complexes of opsin proteins with a retinal prosthetic group. Both bacterioruberin and retinal are synthesized from isoprenoid precursors, with lycopene as the last shared intermediate. We previously described a regulatory mechanism by which Halobacterium salinarum bacterioopsin and Haloarcula vallismortis cruxopsin inhibit bacterioruberin synthesis catalyzed by lycopene elongase. In this work, we found that opsins in all three major Halobacteria clades inhibit bacterioruberin synthesis, suggesting that this regulatory mechanism existed in the common Halobacteria ancestor. Halophilic Archaea, which are generally heterotrophic and aerobic, likely evolved from an autotrophic, anaerobic methanogenic ancestor by acquiring many genes from Bacteria via lateral gene transfer. These bacterial "imports" include genes encoding opsins and lycopene elongases. To determine if opsins from Bacteria inhibit bacterioruberin synthesis, we tested bacterial opsins and found that an opsin from Curtobacterium, in the Actinobacteria phylum, inhibits bacterioruberin synthesis catalyzed by its own lycopene elongase, as well as that catalyzed by several archaeal enzymes. We also determined that the lycopene elongase from Halococcus salifodinae, a species from a family of Halobacteria lacking opsin homologs, retained the capacity to be inhibited by opsins. Together, our results indicate that opsin-mediated inhibition of bacterioruberin biosynthesis is a widely distributed mechanism found in both Archaea and Bacteria, possibly predating the divergence of the two domains. Further analysis may provide insight into the acquisition and evolution of the genes and their host species.IMPORTANCE All organisms use a variety of mechanisms to allocate limited resources to match their needs in their current environment. Here, we explore how halophilic microbes use a novel mechanism to allow efficient production of rhodopsin, a complex of an opsin protein and a retinal prosthetic group. We previously demonstrated that Halobacterium salinarum bacterioopsin directs available resources toward retinal by inhibiting synthesis of bacterioruberin, a molecule that shares precursors with retinal. In this work, we show that this mechanism can be carried out by proteins from halophilic Archaea that are not closely related to H. salinarum and those in at least one species of Bacteria Therefore, opsin-mediated inhibition of bacterioruberin synthesis may be a highly conserved, ancient regulatory mechanism.


C50 carotenoid,UbiA prenyltransferase,carotenoid biosynthesis,cofactor biosynthesis,membrane protein biogenesis,microbial rhodopsin,proteorhodopsin,