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Severe Zinc Depletion of Escherichia coli: Roles for high affinity zinc binding by ZinT, zinc transport and zinc-independent proteins

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Alison GrahamORCiD


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Zinc ions play indispensable roles in biological chemistry. However, bacteria have an impressive ability to acquire Zn(2+) from the environment, making it exceptionally difficult to achieve Zn(2+) deficiency, and so a comprehensive understanding of the importance of Zn(2+) has not been attained. Reduction of the Zn(2+) content of Escherichia coli growth medium to 60 nM or less is reported here for the first time, without recourse to chelators of poor specificity. Cells grown in Zn(2+)-deficient medium had a reduced growth rate and contained up to five times less cellular Zn(2+). To understand global responses to Zn(2+) deficiency, microarray analysis was conducted of cells grown under Zn(2+)-replete and Zn(2+)-depleted conditions in chemostat cultures. Nine genes were up-regulated more than 2-fold (p<0.05) in cells from Zn(2+)-deficient chemostats, including zinT (yodA). zinT is shown to be regulated by Zur ( zinc uptake regulator). A mutant lacking zinT displayed a growth defect and a 3-fold lowered cellular Zn(2+) level under Zn(2+) limitation. The purified ZinT protein possessed a single, high affinity metal-binding site that can accommodate Zn(2+) or Cd(2+). A further up-regulated gene, ykgM, is believed to encode a non-Zn(2+) finger-containing paralogue of the Zn(2+) finger ribosomal protein L31. The gene encoding the periplasmic Zn(2+)- binding protein znuA showed increased expression. During both batch and chemostat growth, cells "found" more Zn(2+) than was originally added to the culture, presumably because of leaching from the culture vessel. Zn(2+) elimination is shown to be a more precise method of depleting Zn(2+) than by using the chelator N,N,N',N'-tetrakis(2-pyridylmethyl)ethylenediamine.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Graham AI, Hunt S, Stokes SL, Bramall N, Bunch J, Cox AG, McLeod CW, Poole RK

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Biological Chemistry

Year: 2009

Volume: 284

Issue: 27

Pages: 18377-18389

ISSN (print): 0021-9258

ISSN (electronic): 1083-351X

Publisher: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M109.001503


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