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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2006 Aug;261(2):272-9.

Identification, cloning and characterization of cysK, the gene encoding O-acetylserine (thiol)-lyase from Azospirillum brasilense, which is involved in tellurite resistance.

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Centro de Investigaciones Microbiológicas, Instituto de Ciencias, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico.


O-Acetylserine (thiol)-lyase (cysteine synthase) was purified from Azospirillum brasilense Sp7. After hydrolysis of the purified protein, amino acid sequences of five peptides were obtained, which permitted the cloning and sequencing of the cysK gene. The deduced amino acid sequence of cysteine synthase exhibited homology with several putative proteins from Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria. Azospirillum brasilense Sp7 cysK exhibited 58% identity (72% similarity) with Escherichia coli K12 and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium cysteine synthase proteins. An E. coli auxotroph lacking cysteine synthase loci could be complemented with A. brasilense Sp7 cysK. The 3.0-kb HindIII-EcoRI fragment bearing cysK contained two additional ORFs encoding a putative transcriptional regulator and dUTPase. Insertional disruption of the cysK gene did not produce a cysteine auxotroph, indicating that gene redundancy in the cysteine biosynthetic or other biosynthetic pathways exists in Azospirillum, as already described in other bacteria. Nitrogen fixation was not altered in the mutant strain as determined by acetylene reduction. However, this strain showed an eight-fold reduction in tellurite resistance as compared to the wild-type strain, which was only observed during growth in minimal medium. These data confirm earlier observations regarding the importance of cysteine metabolism in tellurite resistance.

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