The domain of unknown function DUF1521 exhibits metal ion-inducible autocleavage activity – a novel example from a putative effector protein of Vibrio coralliilyticus ATCC BAA-450


Correspondence: Susanne Zehner, Institute of Genetics, TU Dresden, Helmholtzstrasse 10, 01069 Dresden, Germany. Tel.: +49 351 46335407; fax: +49 351 46339579; e-mail:


Vibrio coralliilyticus ATCC BAA-450 is a pathogen causing coral bleaching at elevated seawater temperatures. Based on the available genome sequence, the strain has a type III secretion system. Within the corresponding gene cluster, VIC_001052 is encoded, which contains a conserved domain of unknown function DUF1521. In this study, we show that the purified domain exhibits autocleavage activity in the presence of several divalent metal ions, for example, calcium and manganese but not with magnesium or zinc. Autocleavage is not affected by temperatures between 0 and 30 °C, indicating that seawater temperature is not a critical factor for this activity. The DUF1521 domain and the cleavage site are conserved in several proteins from proteobacteria, suggesting a similar cleavage activity for these proteins.