C-Phycocyanin was isolated and purified from a uni-algal culture of an extremely halo-tolerant blue–green alga, Coccochloris elabens. This alga can be grown under laboratory conditions in 25% (w/v) NaCl. Purified halophile phycocyanin was characterized by amino acid analysis and the measurement of sedimentation velocity, fluorescence polarization and immunodiffusion as a function of protein concentration, pH and ionic strength. The results were compared with those of studies of phycocyanin isolated from Plectonema calothricoides and from several other sources. The states of aggregation previously characterized as being present in other C-phycocyanins, monomer, trimer and hexamer, were present in halophile phycocyanin and were characterized as antigenically related to all C-phycocyanins tested. The equilibrium between 3S monomer and 11S hexamer at low concentrations in halophile phycocyanin was quantitatively similar to that for other phycocyanins. The effect of pH and ionic strength on the 6S (trimer) and 11S (hexamer) aggregation of halophile phycocyanin was markedly salt-dependent and the relative amount of each aggregate in the presence of 2m-NaCl was like that of C-phycocyanin from mesophiles, in the absence of additional salt. In antigenic relationship and aggregation properties, the phycocyanin from C. elabens appeared to be most closely related to that isolated from the thermophilic blue–green alga, Synechococcus lividus. Amino acid content of the halophile phycocyanin indicated the presence of a significantly larger number of acidic residues than that found in mesophiles. Explanations of the properties of the halophile protein require consideration of a strong contribution of hydrophobic forces and utilize both charge-shielding and salting-out effects.

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