Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/115447
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Type: Journal article
Title: Synergistic toxicity of copper and gold compounds in Cupriavidus metallidurans
Author: Wiesemann, N.
Bütof, L.
Herzberg, M.
Hause, G.
Berthold, L.
Etschmann, B.
Brugger, J.
Martinez-Criado, G.
Dobritzsch, D.
Baginsky, S.
Reith, F.
Nies, D.
Citation: Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2017; 83(23):e01679-17-1-e01679-17-17
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Issue Date: 2017
ISSN: 0099-2240
1098-5336
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Nicole Wiesemann, Lucy Bütof, Martin Herzberg, Gerd Hause, Lutz Berthold, Barbara Etschmann, Joël Brugger, Gema Martinez-Criado, Dirk Dobritzsch, Sacha Baginsky, Frank Reith, Dietrich H. Nies
Abstract: The bacterium Cupriavidus metallidurans is capable of reducing toxic gold(I/III)-complexes and biomineralizing them into metallic gold (Au) nanoparticles, thereby mediating the (trans)formation of Au nuggets. In Au-rich soils, most transition metals do not interfere with the resistance of this bacterium to toxic mobile Au-complexes and can be removed from the cell by plasmid-encoded metal efflux systems. Copper is a noticeable exception: the presence of Au-complexes and Cu-ions results in synergistic toxicity, which is accompanied by an increased cytoplasmic Cu content and formation of Au nanoparticles in the periplasm. The periplasmic Cu-oxidase CopA was not essential for formation of the periplasmic Au nanoparticles. As shown with the purified and reconstituted Cu efflux system CupA, Au-complexes block Cu-dependent release of phosphate from ATP by CupA, indicating inhibition of Cu transport. Moreover, Cu resistance of Au-inhibited cells was similar to that of mutants carrying deletions in the genes for the Cu-exporting PIB1-type ATPases. Consequently, Au-complexes inhibit export of cytoplasmic Cu-ions, leading to an increased cellular Cu-content and decreased Cu/Au resistance. Uncovering the biochemical mechanisms of synergistic Au/Cu-toxicity in C. metallidurans explains the issues this bacterium has to face in auriferous environments, where it is as an important contributor to the environmental Au cycle.ImportanceC. metallidurans lives in metal-rich environments, including auriferous soils that contain a mixture of toxic transition metal cations. We demonstrate here that copper ions and gold complexes exert synergistic toxicity because gold ions inhibit the copper-exporting P-type ATPase CupA, which is central to copper resistance in this bacterium. Such a situation should occur in soils overlying Au deposits, in which Cu:Au ratios usually are >> 1. Appreciating how C. metallidurans solves the problem of living in environments that contain both Au and Cu is a pre-requisite to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying gold cycling in the environment, and the significance and opportunities of microbiota for specific targeting to Au in mineral exploration and ore processing.
Keywords: Ions; Copper; Gold Compounds; Soil; Soil Microbiology; Cupriavidus; Metal Nanoparticles
Description: Accepted manuscript posted online 22 September 2017
Rights: Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
RMID: 0030078566
DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01679-17
Grant ID: http://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/LP100200102
http://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/FT150100250
Appears in Collections:Earth and Environmental Sciences publications

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