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Discovery and characterization of a novel family of prokaryotic nanocompartments involved in sulfur metabolism

By Robert J. Nichols, Benjamin LaFrance, Naiya R Phillips, Luke M. Oltrogge, Luis E. Valentin-Alvarado, Amanda J Bischoff, Eva Nogales, David F. Savage

Posted 25 May 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.24.113720

Prokaryotic nanocompartments, also known as encapsulins, are a recently discovered proteinaceous organelle in prokaryotes that compartmentalize cargo enzymes. While initial studies have begun to elucidate the structure and physiological roles of encapsulins, bioinformatic evidence suggests that a great diversity of encapsulin nanocompartments remains unexplored. Here, we describe a novel encapsulin in the freshwater cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942. This nanocompartment is upregulated upon sulfate starvation and encapsulates a cysteine desulfurase enzyme via an N-terminal targeting sequence. Using cryo-electron microscopy, we have determined the structure of the nanocompartment complex to 2.2 Å resolution. Lastly, biochemical characterization of the complex demonstrated that the activity of the cysteine desulfurase is enhanced upon encapsulation. Taken together, our discovery, structural analysis, and enzymatic characterization of this prokaryotic nanocompartment provide a foundation for future studies seeking to understand the physiological role of this encapsulin in various bacteria. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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