Oligomerization properties of cyanobacterial FurA: Direct visualization by in situ atomic force microscopy under different redox conditions
Fur proteins are global prokaryotic transcriptional regulators. Functional studies of FurA from the cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. PCC 7120 evidenced the influence of the redox environment in the activity of the regulator and its ability to aggregate through disulphide bridges. Atomic force microscopy allows single-molecule imaging and monitorization of the status of FurA under different redox conditions mimicking a physiological environment. The estimated FurA average diameter was of 4 + 1 nm. In the absence of reducing agents, the purified FurA is mainly associated as trimers, being 40 º the prevalent angle α conformed by protein monomers. Reducing conditions induces trimer rearrangment to protein monomers and a major fraction of FurA dimers. Disruption of the dimeric assemblies and appearance of higher order aggregates, namely trimers and tetramers are induced by oxidation with diamide or hydrogen peroxide. The homogeneity of the angles exhibited by the trimeric particles, as well as the occurrence of dimers in the presence of DTT, suggests the participation of relatively specific hydrophobic interactions maintaining the dimer. Direct visualization of the regulator under liquid phase at molecular resolution unravels the importance of non-polar interactions in FurA dynamics and shows that in Anabaena disulphide bridges are not essential for the dimerization of FurA.