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Summary

Pseudoalteromonas antarctica NF3 is an Antarctic psychrotolerant Gram-negative bacterium that accumulates large amounts of an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) with high protein content. Transmission electron microscopy analysis after high-pressure freezing and freeze substitution (HPF-FS) shows that the EPS is composed of a capsular polymer and large numbers of outer membrane vesicles (OMVs). These vesicles are bilayered structures and predominantly spherical in shape, with an average diameter of 25–70 nm, which is similar to what has been observed in OMVs from other Gram-negative bacteria. Analyses of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), phospholipids and protein profiles of OMVs are consistent with the bacterial outer membrane origin of these vesicles. In an initial attempt to elucidate the functions of OMVs proteins, we conducted a proteomic analysis on 1D SDS-PAGE bands. Those proteins putatively identified match with outer membrane proteins and proteins related to nutrient processing and transport in Gram-negative bacteria. This approach suggests that OMVs present in the EPS from P. antarctica NF3, might function to deliver proteins to the external media, and therefore play an important role in the survival of the bacterium in the extreme Antarctic environment.