Bioinformatics characterization of BcsA-like orphan proteins suggest they form a novel family of pseudomonad cyclic-β-glucan synthases

Andrew J. Spiers (Lead / Corresponding author), Helge C. Dorfmueller, Robyn Jerdan, Jessica McGregor, Abbie Nicoll, Kenzie Steel, Scott Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Bacteria produce a variety of polysaccharides with functional roles in cell surface coating, surface and host interactions, and biofilms. We have identified an 'Orphan' bacterial cellulose synthase catalytic subunit (BcsA)-like protein found in four model pseudomonads, P. aeruginosa PA01, P. fluorescens SBW25, P. putida KT2440 and P. syringae pv. tomato DC3000. Pairwise alignments indicated that the Orphan and BcsA proteins shared less than 41% sequence identity suggesting they may not have the same structural folds or function. We identified 112 Orphans among soil and plant-associated pseudomonads as well as in phytopathogenic and human opportunistic pathogenic strains. The wide distribution of these highly conserved proteins suggest they form a novel family of synthases producing a different polysaccharide. In silico analysis, including sequence comparisons, secondary structure and topology predictions, and protein structural modelling, revealed a two-domain transmembrane ovoid-like structure for the Orphan protein with a periplasmic glycosyl hydrolase family GH17 domain linked via a transmembrane region to a cytoplasmic glycosyltransferase family GT2 domain. We suggest the GT2 domain synthesises β-(1,3)-glucan that is transferred to the GH17 domain where it is cleaved and cyclised to produce cyclic-β-(1,3)-glucan (CβG). Our structural models are consistent with enzymatic characterisation and recent molecular simulations of the PaPA01 and PpKT2440 GH17 domains. It also provides a functional explanation linking PaPAK and PaPA14 Orphan (also known as NdvB) transposon mutants with CβG production and biofilm-associated antibiotic resistance. Importantly, cyclic glucans are also involved in osmoregulation, plant infection and induced systemic suppression, and our findings suggest this novel family of CβG synthases may provide similar range of adaptive responses for pseudomonads.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0286540
Number of pages32
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2023


  • Humans
  • Polysaccharides/metabolism
  • Glucans
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Biofilms
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa/metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins/metabolism
  • beta-Glucans/metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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