Send to

Choose Destination
FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2003 Jun;27(2-3):131-43.

The SmtB/ArsR family of metalloregulatory transcriptional repressors: Structural insights into prokaryotic metal resistance.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Center for Advanced Biomolecular Research, 2128 TAMU, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2128, USA.


The SmtB/ArsR family of prokaryotic metalloregulatory transcriptional repressors represses the expression of operons linked to stress-inducing concentrations of di- and multivalent heavy metal ions. Derepression results from direct binding of metal ions by these homodimeric "metal sensor" proteins. An evolutionary analysis, coupled with comparative structural and spectroscopic studies of six SmtB/ArsR family members, suggests a unifying "theme and variations" model, in which individual members have evolved distinct metal selectivity profiles by alteration of one or both of two structurally distinct metal coordination sites. These two metal sites are designated alpha3N (or alpha3) and alpha5 (or alpha5C), named for the location of the metal binding ligands within the known or predicted secondary structure of individual family members. The alpha3N/alpha3 sensors, represented by Staphylococcus aureus pI258 CadC, Listeria monocytogenes CadC and Escherichia coli ArsR, form cysteine thiolate-rich coordination complexes (S(3) or S(4)) with thiophilic heavy metal pollutants including Cd(II), Pb(II), Bi(III) and As(III) via inter-subunit coordination by ligands derived from the alpha3 helix and the N-terminal "arm" (CadCs) or from the alpha3 helix only (ArsRs). The alpha5/alpha5C sensors Synechococcus SmtB, Synechocystis ZiaR, S. aureus CzrA, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis NmtR form metal complexes with biologically required metal ions Zn(II), Co(II) and Ni(II) characterized by four or more coordination bonds to a mixture of histidine and carboxylate ligands derived from the C-terminal alpha5 helices on opposite subunits. Direct binding of metal ions to either the alpha3N or alpha5 sites leads to strong, negative allosteric regulation of repressor operator/promoter binding affinity, consistent with a simple model for derepression. We hypothesize that distinct allosteric pathways for metal sensing have co-evolved with metal specificities of distinct alpha3N and alpha5 coordination complexes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center