, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 153-168

First step towards a quantitative model describing Czc-mediated heavy metal resistance in Ralstonia metallidurans

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Quantitative models were derived to explain heavy metal resistance in Ralstonia metallidurans. A ΔczcA deletion of the gene for the central component of the Co2+/Zn2+/Cd2+ efflux system CzcCBA combined with the expression level of czcCBA as studied with a Φ(czcC-lacZ-czcBA) operon fusion demonstrated that CzcCBA was the only prerequisite for resistance to Co2+/Zn2+/Cd2+ at concentrations of 200 μM and above. The cellular content of the CzcA protein (resistance nodulation cell division protein family RND) determined by Western blot was used to model the CzcCBA expression level as the response to various metal concentrations. These data and experimentally determined uptake velocities were used to derive a flow equilibrium model that describes the cytoplasmic content ci of the cells as an interaction between cation uptake and CzcCBA-mediated efflux. Alternatively, binding of heavy metals to inactivated R. metallidurans cells was described with a modified Freundlich's equation. The metal content of growing R. metallidurans cells was determined and compared to the predictions of both models. High amounts of zinc precipitates, exclusively formed by living cells, prevented a model validation for zinc. An additional net efflux activity let to lower amounts of cell-bound Co2+ than predicted. The flow equilibrium model described cadmium resistance sufficiently for R. metallidurans growing in the presence of 0.2–1 mM Cd2+. Description of cadmium resistance in early stationary cells requires the binding model in addition to the flow equilibrium model. Thus, it was possible to simulate physiological events in growing cells by quantitative models that are derived from the biochemical data of the interacting transport proteins.