Team:Washington/Magnetosomes/Magnet Toolkit


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(Construction of the Magnetosome Genome (in parts) in E.coli)
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==Magnetosome Toolkit==
<center><big><big><big><big>iGEM Toolkits: Magnetosome Toolkit</big></big></big></big></center><br><br>
===What are magnetosomes? Where do they come from?===
===What are magnetosomes? Where do they come from?===

Revision as of 01:46, 23 September 2011

iGEM Toolkits: Magnetosome Toolkit

What are magnetosomes? Where do they come from?

Fig. 1: A Chain of Magnetosomes within Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1

Magnetotactic Bacteria are prokaryotic organisms which possess the unique ability to align themselves along a magnetic field. This form of taxis is made possible by the formation of a magnetosome formation. Magnetosomes are small invaginations of the bacterial cell membrane that contain magnetite particles

These particles range in size between 20 and several hundred nanometers and are aligned in one or several chains along the long axis of the bacteria. These particles act together to form a magnetic dipole across the bacteria, allowing it to perceive the earth’s magnetic field. Magnetotactic bacteria are microaerophilic; therefore, the magnetosome is currently thought to help aid the organism in its search for the perfect oxygen level from a three dimensional space (in all directions) to a one dimensional space along a single path.

A Closer look at Magnetosome Formation

The formation of the magnetosome organelle is a highly regulated, step-wise process requiring a cascade of essential genes. The process is generally hypothesized as four stages: i) membrane invagination, ii) acquiring minerals for magnetite formation, iii) iron-oxidation and reduction, iv) magnetite nucleation and morphology regulation. Earlier gene products must be present for later gene products to be formed as shown in the diagram below: [1]:

Fig. 2: Diagram of stepwise magnetosome construction within AMB-1.

What did the UW iGEM team do with Magnetotactic Bacteria?

It is thought that many of the essential genes associated with magnetosome formation are located within a well-conserved region known as the magnetosome island (MAI). The MAI consists of 14 gene clusters labeled R1-R14 (see diagram below).Our team focused on the genes of the mamAB gene cluster (R5) as they were previously shown to be essential for magnetosome membrane biogenesis in AMB-1 (diagram show below).[2].

The goal of our project was to extract all the essential genes from (R5) required for magnetosome formation and express them in E.coli. This was done in order to understand more about magnetosome formation and the magnet synthesis mechanism because many of the genes' functions are still unknown in the host species. Using the information we have gained, we have organized a Magnetosome Toolkit containing most of the essential genes for proper magnetosome formation. Ultimately, we would like to continue expanding the magnetosome toolkit to have enough parts to show complete magnetosome formation within E.coli.

Fig. 3: The mamAB operon (R5) located in the magnetosome island (MAI).

About the Magnetosome Toolkit:

Using standard synthetic biology protocols and the vectors we created in our Gibson Assembly Toolkit, our team was able to create a "Magnetosome Toolkit" consisting of the most basic parts required for magnetosome formation. Providing this toolkit will help allow future iGem teams to manipulate and further understand magnetosome formation to eventually synthesize magnets in various types of bacteria.

Toolkit construction and mamAB assembly in E.coli

Individual Magnetosome (mam) genes

Before piecing together the 16 kb genome of the mamAB gene cluster within the magnetosome island (MAI), we extracted out the genes in the following groups:

Gene groups Length (bp)
mamHI 1541
mamE 2172
mamJ 1538
mamKL 1336
mamMN 2323
mamO 1914
mamPA 1493
mamQRB 2029
mamSTU 2030
mamV 1002
Washington Methode image.jpg

Using standard protocols and our high-copy pGA vectors, these genes were extracted from the host genome and characterized to confirm their accuracy.

As previously noted, magnetosome formation within the host-organism, Magnetospirillium magneticum, strain AMB-1, is a highly regulated step-wise process. As shown in Fig. 2, some genes encode for an invagination in the inner membrane, other genes which help align the magnetosomes into their characteristics chains, and others which regulate the biomineralization of magnetic particles. Our team chose to focus on genes specifically related to magnetosome scaffolding/alignment since they are the essential foundation for magnetosome development. In addition, the creation of a scaffold to which other genes localize is highly applicable to systems in synthetic biology. (for more information, please see our Future Directions page)

Our genes of interest were mamK and mamI as they have functions related to localization of the magnetosome. Specifically, mamK is a bacterial actin-like cytoskeleton protein required for proper alignment of the magnetosomes in a chain. mamK is also shown to localize the mamI, which is loss inhibits membrane formation. (for other gene functions, see the table below):

Gene AMB Number Cluster Membership Member of 28 genes list? (specific*/related**) Function Summary (Vesicle chain formation, and/or biomineralization) Gene Function
mamH amb0961 mamAB Related
mamI amb0962 mamAB Specific Vesicle, (Chain Formation?) >berkeley 2010: Loss causes no membrane formation, is localized onto chains
mamE amb0963 mamAB; mam Islet Related >Membrane-bound serine protease required for magnetite formation; might control the localization of other magnetosome proteins
mamJ amb0964 mamAB; mam Islet Specific Chain Formation >Proper magnetosome chain organization/assembly
mamK amb0965 mamAB; mam Islet Related Chain Formation >required for proper magnetosome chain organization; *bacterial actin-like cytoskeleton protein required for proper alignment of the magnetosomes in a chain, shown to localize the mamI
mamL amb0966 mamAB; mam Islet Specific Vesicle, biomineralization >berkely 2010: Crucial to mangneosome membrane creation, shown to be spread across the cell membrane and sometimes forms lines
mamM amb0967 mamAB Related >biomineralization, involved in iron transport, magnetite nucleation, or establishement of the proper chemical enviornment for magnetite synthesis in the magnetosome
mamN amb0968 mamAB Related >biomineralization, involved in iron transport, magnetite nucleation, or establishement of the proper chemical enviornment for magnetite synthesis in the magnetosome
mamO amb0969 mamAB Related >biomineralization, involved in iron transport, magnetite nucleation, or establishement of the proper chemical enviornment for magnetite synthesis in the magnetosome
mamP amb0970 mamAB Related Biomineralization >berkeley 2010: loss causes weak magnetic response, with large but fewer crystals
mamA amb0971 mamAB Related >Required for magnetosome activation; activation of vessicles
mamQ amb0972 mamAB; mam Islet Related >ORF; formation/maintenance of magnetosome membranes
mamR amb0973 mamAB Specific Chain formation, Biomineralization >ORF; plays a role in controlling both particle number and size of magnetite cyrstals
mamB amb0974 mamAB Related Vesicle, Biomineralization >indirect role in magnetosome membrane invagination and biomineralization; magnetosome compartment formation
mamS amb0975 mamAB Specific
mamT amb0976 mamAB Specific Biomineralization >magnetite crystal growth; participates in different steps during magnetite synthesis
mamU amb0977 mamAB Related
mamV amb0978 mamAB N/A

Magnetosome gene-protein Fusions

Using our two genes of interest, we created C-terminal sfGFP fusions so we could track the localization of each gene separately within E.coli.

Igem2011 mamK and I.png

The results we obtained with our sfGFP fusions inside E.coli were comparable to those done through other studies in the host organism Magnetospirillum magneticum. In the image of mamK, a filament is seen running through the length of many bacteria. For mamI, the gene product is seen to fluoresce around the cell membrane of the bacteria but mostly concentrated at the ends. Similarly, the graph shows that as the arrow cross the cell membrane, the fluorescent peaks are at a maximum, and through the center of the cell, the level of fluorescence decreases.

Construction of the R5 region of the Magnetosome Island in E.coli

After identifying that the construction of the scaffold had worked, we proceeded to work on the final assembly in three parts: mamHIEJLK, mamMNOPA, and mamQRBSTUV. The first, and the third part of the assembly are shown below. They have been sequence confirmed...

>Pictures of mamHIEJLK and QRBSTUV<-------