Heavy metal accumulation by Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells armed with metal binding hexapeptides targeted to the inner face of the plasma membrane
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Accumulation of heavy metals without developing toxicity symptoms is a phenotype restricted to a small group of plants called hyperaccumulators, whose metal-related characteristics suggested the high potential in biotechnologies such as bioremediation and bioextraction. In an attempt to extrapolate the heavy metal hyperaccumulating phenotype to yeast, we obtained Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells armed with non-natural metal-binding hexapeptides targeted to the inner face of the plasma membrane, expected to sequester the metal ions once they penetrated the cell. We describe the construction of S. cerevisiae strains overexpressing metal-binding hexapeptides (MeBHxP) fused to the carboxy-terminus of a myristoylated green fluorescent protein (myrGFP). Three non-toxic myrGFP-MeBHxP (myrGFP-H6, myrGFP-C6, and myrGFP-(DE)3) were investigated against an array of heavy metals in terms of their effect on S. cerevisiae growth, heavy metal (hyper) accumulation, and capacity to remove heavy metal from contaminated environments.