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Copper tolerance in bacteria requires the activation of multiple accessory pathways

Lookup NU author(s): Andrea Giachino, Dr Kevin WaldronORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020 The Authors. Molecular Microbiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Copper is a required micronutrient for bacteria and an essential cofactor for redox-active cuproenzymes. Yet, excess copper is extremely toxic, and is exploited as a bacteriocide in medical and biotechnological applications and also by the mammalian immune system. To evade copper toxicity, bacteria not only control intracellular copper homeostasis, but they must also repair the damage caused by excess copper. In this review, we summarize the bacterial cell-wide response to copper toxicity in Enterobacteria. Tapping into the abundant research data on two key organisms, Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica, we show that copper resistance requires both the direct copper homeostatic response and also the indirect accessory pathways that deal with copper-induced damage. Since patterns of copper response are conserved through the Proteobacteria, we propose a cell-wide view of copper detoxification and copper tolerance that can be used to identify novel targets for copper-based antibacterial therapeutics.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Giachino A, Waldron KJ

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Molecular Microbiology

Year: 2020

Volume: 114

Issue: 3

Pages: 377-390

Print publication date: 01/09/2020

Online publication date: 23/04/2020

Acceptance date: 20/04/2020

ISSN (print): 0950-382X

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2958

Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/mmi.14522

PubMed id: 32329112