The RND-family transporter, HpnN, is required for hopanoid localization to the outer membrane of Rhodopseudomonas palustris TIE-1. Academic Article uri icon


  • Rhodopseudomonas palustris TIE-1 is a gram-negative bacterium that produces structurally diverse hopanoid lipids that are similar to eukaryotic steroids. Its genome encodes several homologues to proteins involved in eukaryotic steroid trafficking. In this study, we explored the possibility that two of these proteins are involved in intracellular hopanoid transport. R. palustris has a sophisticated membrane system comprising outer, cytoplasmic, and inner cytoplasmic membranes. It also divides asymmetrically, producing a mother and swarmer cell. We deleted genes encoding two putative hopanoid transporters that belong to the resistance-nodulation-cell division superfamily. Phenotypic analyses revealed that one of these putative transporters (HpnN) is essential for the movement of hopanoids from the cytoplasmic to the outer membrane, whereas the other (Rpal_4267) plays a minor role. C(30) hopanoids, such as diploptene, are evenly distributed between mother and swarmer cells, whereas hpnN is required for the C(35) hopanoid, bacteriohopanetetrol, to remain localized to the mother cell type. Mutant cells lacking HpnN grow like the WT at 30 °C but slower at 38 °C. Following cell division at 38 °C, the ?hpnN cells remain connected by their cell wall, forming long filaments. This phenotype may be attributed to hopanoid mislocalization because a double mutant deficient in both hopanoid biosynthesis and transport does not form filaments. However, the lack of hopanoids severely compromises cell growth at higher temperatures more generally. Because hopanoid mutants only manifest a strong phenotype under certain conditions, R. palustris is an attractive model organism in which to study their transport and function.

publication date

  • November 8, 2011