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The Role of Intermetal Competition and Mis-Metalation in Metal Toxicity

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Anna Barwinska-SendraORCiD, Dr Kevin WaldronORCiD


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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. The metals manganese, iron, cobalt, nickel, copper and zinc are essential for almost all bacteria, but their precise metal requirements vary by species, by ecological niche and by growth condition. Bacteria thus must acquire each of these essential elements in sufficient quantity to satisfy their cellular demand, but in excess these same elements are toxic. Metal toxicity has been exploited by humanity for centuries, and by the mammalian immune system for far longer, yet the mechanisms by which these elements cause toxicity to bacteria are not fully understood. There has been a resurgence of interest in metal toxicity in recent decades due to the problematic spread of antibiotic resistance amongst bacterial pathogens, which has led to an increased research effort to understand these toxicity mechanisms at the molecular level. A recurring theme from these studies is the role of intermetal competition in bacterial metal toxicity.In this review, we first survey biological metal usage and introduce some fundamental chemical concepts that are important for understanding bacterial metal usage and toxicity. Then we introduce a simple model by which to understand bacterial metal homeostasis in terms of the distribution of each essential metal ion within cellular 'pools', and dissect how these pools interact with each other and with key proteins of bacterial metal homeostasis. Finally, using a number of key examples from the recent literature, we look at specific metal toxicity mechanisms in model bacteria, demonstrating the role of metal-metal competition in the toxicity mechanisms of diverse essential metals.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Barwinska-Sendra A, Waldron KJ

Editor(s): Robert K. Poole

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Microbiology of Metal Ions

Year: 2017

Volume: 70

Pages: 315-379

Online publication date: 13/02/2017

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Series Title: Advances in Microbial Physiology

Publisher: Academic Press

Place Published: Kidlington, Oxford


DOI: 10.1016/bs.ampbs.2017.01.003

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780128123867