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Halobacterium salinarum is an extreme halophile archaeon with an absolute requirement for a multimolar salt environment. It accumulates molar concentrations of KCl in the cytosol to counterbalance the external osmotic pressure imposed by the molar NaCl. As a consequence, cytosolic proteins are permanently exposed to low water activity and highly ionic conditions. In non-adapted systems, such conditions would promote protein aggregation, precipitation, and denaturation. In contrast, in vitro studies showed that proteins from extreme halophilic cells are themselves obligate halophiles. In this paper, adaptation via dynamics to low-salt stress in H. salinarum cells was measured by neutron scattering experiments coupled with microbiological characterization. The molecular dynamic properties of a proteome represent a good indicator for environmental adaptation and the neutron/microbiology approach has been shown to be well tailored to characterize these modifications. In their natural setting, halophilic organisms often have to face important variations in environmental salt concentration. The results showed deleterious effects already occur in the H. salinarum proteome, even when the external salt concentration is still relatively high, suggesting the onset of survival mechanisms quite early when the environmental salt concentration decreases.
PMID: 26376634 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]