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A nickel-cobalt-sensing ArsR-SmtB family repressor: Contributions of cytosol and effector binding sites to metal selectivity

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jennifer Cavet, Dr Wenmao Meng, Professor Nigel Robinson


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NmtR from Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a new member of the ArsR-SmtB family of metal sensor transcriptional repressors. NmtR binds to the operator-promoter of a gene encoding a P1 type ATPase (NmtA), repressing transcription in vivo except in medium supplemented with nickel or, to some extent, cobalt. In a cyanobacterial host, Synechococcus PCC 7942 strain R2-PIM8(smt), NmtR-mediated repression is alleviated by cobalt but not nickel or zinc addition, while the related sensor SmtB responds exclusively to zinc. Quantification of the number of atoms of nickel per cell shows that NmtR nickel sensitivity correlates with cytosolic nickel contents. Differential metal discrimination in a common cytosol by SmtB (zinc) and NmtR (cobalt) is not simply explained by affinities at equilibrium; although NmtR does bind nickel substantially more tightly than SmtB, it has a higher affinity for zinc than for cobalt and binds cobalt more weakly than SmtB. SmtB is known to bind and sense zinc at interhelical four-coordinate, tetrahedral sites across the C-terminal a5 helices, while absorption spectroscopy of Co(II)- and Ni(II)-substituted NmtR reveals five- and six-coordinate metal complexes. Site-directed mutagenesis identifies six potential cobalt/ nickel ligands that are obligatory for inducer recognition but not repression by NmtR, four of which (Asp91, His93, His104, His107) align with α5 ligands of SmtB with two additional His provided by a carboxyl-terminal "extension" (designated α5C). Gel retardation assays reveal that zinc does not allosterically regulate NmtR-DNA binding at concentrations where lower affinity cobalt does. These data suggest that two additional ligands form hexacoordinate metal complexes and are crucial for driving allosteric regulation of DNA binding by NmtR, thereby allowing NmtR to preferentially sense metals that favor higher coordination numbers relative to SmtB.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Meng W; Robinson NJ; Cavet JS; Pennella MA; Appelhoff RJ; Giedroc DP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Biological Chemistry

Year: 2002

Volume: 277

Issue: 41

Pages: 38441-38448

ISSN (print): 0021-9258

ISSN (electronic): 1083-351X

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


DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M207677200

PubMed id: 12163508


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