, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 437-448

Control of Expression of a Periplasmic Nickel Efflux Pump by Periplasmic Nickel Concentrations

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Abstract

There is accumulating evidence that transenvelope efflux pumps of the resistance, nodulation, cell division protein family (RND) are excreting toxic substances from the periplasm across the outer membrane directly to the outside. This would mean that resistance of Gram-negative bacteria to organic toxins and heavy metals is in fact a two-step process: one set of resistance factors control the concentration of a toxic substance in the periplasm, another one that in the cytoplasm. Efficient periplasmic detoxification requires periplasmic toxin sensing and transduction of this signal into the cytoplasm to control expression of the periplasmic detoxification system. Such a signal transduction system was analyzed using the Cnr nickel resistance system from Cupriavidus (Wautersia, Ralstonia, Alcaligenes) metallidurans strain CH34. Resistance is based on nickel efflux mediated by the CnrCBA efflux pump encoded by the cnrYHXCBAT metal resistance determinant. The products of the three genes cnrYXH transcriptionally regulate expression of cnr. CnrY and CnrX are membrane-bound proteins probably functioning as anti sigma factors while CnrH is a cnr-specific extracytoplasmic functions (ECF) sigma factors. Experimental data provided here indicate a signal transduction chain leading from nickel in the periplasm to transcription initiation at the cnr promoters cnrYp and cnrCp, which control synthesis of the nickel efflux pump CnrCBA.