The mercury (II) ion is toxic and is usually detoxified in Bacteria by reduction to elemental mercury, which is less toxic. This is catalysed by an NAD(P)H-dependent mercuric reductase (EC 188.8.131.52). Here, we present strong evidence that Methylococcus capsulatus (Bath) – a methanotrophic member of the Gammaproteobacteria – uses this enzyme to detoxify mercury. In radiorespirometry studies, it was found that cells exposed to mercury dissimilated 100% of [14C]-methane provided to generate reducing equivalents to fuel mercury (II) reduction, rather than the mix of assimilation and dissimilation found in control incubations. The detoxification system is constitutively expressed with a specific activity of 352 (±18) nmol NADH oxidized min-1 (mg protein)-1. Putative mercuric reductase genes were predicted in the M. capsulatus (Bath) genome and found in mRNA microarray studies. The MerA-derived polypeptide showed high identity (> 80%) with MerA sequences from the Betaproteobacteria.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||FEMS Microbiology Letters|
|Publication status||Published - Nov 2011|