Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), a biodegradable polymer accumulated by bacteria is deposited intracellularly in the form of inclusion bodies often called granules. The granules are supramolecular complexes harbouring a varied number of proteins on their surface, which have specific but incompletely characterised functions. By comparison with other organisms that produce biodegradable polymers, only two phasins have been described to date for Rhodosprillum rubrum, raising the possibility that more await discovery. Using a comparative proteomics strategy to compare the granules of wild-type R. rubrum with a PHB-negative mutant housing artificial PHB granules, we identified four potential PHB granules' associated proteins. These were: Q2RSI4, an uncharacterised protein; Q2RWU9, annotated as an extracellular solute-binding protein; Q2RQL4, annotated as basic membrane lipoprotein; and Q2RQ51, annotated as glucose-6-phosphate isomerase. In silico analysis revealed that Q2RSI4 harbours a Phasin_2 family domain and shares low identity with a single-strand DNA-binding protein from Sphaerochaeta coccoides. Fluorescence microscopy found that three proteins Q2RSI4, Q2EWU9 and Q2RQL4 co-localised with PHB granules. This work adds three potential new granule associated proteins to the repertoire of factors involved in bacterial storage granule formation, and confirms that proteomics screens are an effective strategy for discovery of novel granule associated proteins.
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