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J Biol Chem. 2004 Apr 23;279(17):17810-8. Epub 2004 Feb 11.

A novel cyanobacterial SmtB/ArsR family repressor regulates the expression of a CPx-ATPase and a metallothionein in response to both Cu(I)/Ag(I) and Zn(II)/Cd(II).

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  • 1Research Institute for Bioresources, Okayama University, Kurashiki, Okayama 710-0046, Japan.


A novel SmtB/ArsR family metalloregulator, denoted BxmR, has been identified and characterized from the cyanobacterium Oscillatoria brevis. Genetic and biochemical evidence reveals that BxmR represses the expression of both bxa1, encoding a CPx-ATPase metal transporter, as well as a divergently transcribed operon encoding bxmR and bmtA, a heavy metal sequestering metallothionein. Derepression of the expression of all three genes is mediated by both monovalent (Ag(I) and Cu(I)) and divalent (Zn(II) and Cd(II)) heavy metal ions, a novel property among SmtB/ArsR metal sensors. Electrophoretic gel mobility shift experiments reveal that apoBxmR forms multiple resolvable complexes with oligonucleotides containing a single 12-2-12 inverted repeat derived from one of the two operator/promoter regions with similar apparent affinities. Preincubation with either monovalent or divalent metal ions induces disassembly of both the BxmR-bxa1 and BxmR-bxmR/bmtA operator/promoter complexes. Interestingly, the temporal regulation of expression of bxa1 and bmtA mRNAs is different in O. brevis with bxa1 induced first upon heavy metal treatment, followed by bmtA/bxmR. A dynamic interplay among Bxa1, BmtA, and BxmR is proposed that maintains metal homeostasis in O. brevis by balancing the relative rates of metal storage and efflux of multiple heavy metal ions.

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