• Planctomycete;
  • Protein domain;
  • Signal peptide;
  • Secretion;
  • Sequence motif;
  • Proteome analysis


The planctomycetes are a phylum of bacteria that have a unique cell compartmentalisation and yeast-like budding cell division and peptidoglycan-less proteinaceous cell walls. We wished to further our understanding of these unique organisms at the molecular level by searching for conserved amino acid sequence motifs and domains in the proteins encoded by Rhodopirellula baltica. Using BLAST and single-linkage clustering, we have discovered several new protein domains and sequence motifs in this planctomycete. R. baltica has multiple members of the newly discovered GEFGR protein family and the ASPIC C-terminal domain family, whilst most other organisms for which whole genome sequence is available have no more than one. Many of the domains and motifs appear to be restricted to the planctomycetes. It is possible that these protein domains and motifs may have been lost or replaced in other phyla, or they may have undergone multiple duplication events in the planctomycete lineage. One of the novel motifs probably represents a novel N-terminal export signal peptide. With their unique cell biology, it may be that the planctomycete cell compartmentalisation plan in particular needs special membrane transport mechanisms. The discovery of these new domains and motifs, many of which are associated with secretion and cell-surface functions, will help to stimulate experimental work and thus enhance further understanding of this fascinating group of organisms.