Pressure adaptation is linked to thermal adaptation in salt-saturated marine habitats

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The present study provides a deeper view of protein functionality as a function of temperature, salt and pressure in deep-sea habitats. A set of eight different enzymes from five distinct deep-sea (3040–4908 m depth), moderately warm (14.0–16.5°C) biotopes, characterized by a wide range of salinities (39–348 practical salinity units), were investigated for this purpose. An enzyme from a ‘superficial’ marine hydrothermal habitat (65°C) was isolated and characterized for comparative purposes. We report here the first experimental evidence suggesting that in salt-saturated deep-sea habitats, the adaptation to high pressure is linked to high thermal resistance (P value = 0.0036). Salinity might therefore increase the temperature window for enzyme activity, and possibly microbial growth, in deep-sea habitats. As an example, Lake Medee, the largest hypersaline deep-sea anoxic lake of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, where the water temperature is never higher than 16°C, was shown to contain halopiezophilic-like enzymes that are most active at 70°C and with denaturing temperatures of 71.4°C. The determination of the crystal structures of five proteins revealed unknown molecular mechanisms involved in protein adaptation to poly-extremes as well as distinct active site architectures and substrate preferences relative to other structurally characterized enzymes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-345
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2014
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