The genes (slgA) encoding the surface-layer glycoproteins of the hyperthermophilic methanogens Methanothermus fervidus and Methanothermus sociabilis were cloned and sequenced. The nucleotide sequences of these genes differ at only nine positions, resulting in three amino acid differences.

In both organisms, the transcription start site was localized by primer extension analyses. The DNA sequence at this site conforms to the promotor box B motif for promotors of archaea. 24 nucleotides upstream of the transcription start is an A + T-rich region, which closely resembles the consensus box A motif of promoters of methanogens. Ribosome binding sites are exactly complementary to the 3′ end of the 16S rRNA of these methanogens.

Both slgA genes encode for a precursor of the mature surface-layer protein containing 593 amino acid residues with a putative N-terminal signal sequence of 22 amino acid residues. The deduced protein sequences contain 20 sequon structures representing possible carbohydrate-binding sites.

In comparison with other surface-layer proteins, these obtained from the two hyperthermophilic methanogens contain unusually high amounts of isoleucine, asparagine and cysteine residues. Predicted secondary structures have a high content of β-sheet structure (44%) and only 7%α-helix structures.