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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Jan;73(2):390-8. Epub 2006 Nov 10.

Involvement of Pseudomonas aeruginosa rhodanese in protection from cyanide toxicity.

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Dipartimento di Biologia, Università Roma Tre, Viale G. Marconi 446, 00146 Rome, Italy.


Cyanide is a serious environmental pollutant and a biocontrol metabolite in plant growth-promoting Pseudomonas species. Here we report on the presence of multiple sulfurtransferases in the cyanogenic bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 and investigate in detail RhdA, a thiosulfate:cyanide sulfurtransferase (rhodanese) which converts cyanide to less toxic thiocyanate. RhdA is a cytoplasmic enzyme acting as the principal rhodanese in P. aeruginosa. The rhdA gene forms a transcriptional unit with the PA4955 and psd genes and is controlled by two promoters located upstream of PA4955 and rhdA. Both promoters direct constitutive RhdA expression and show similar patterns of activity, involving moderate down-regulation at the stationary phase or in the presence of exogenous cyanide. We previously observed that RhdA overproduction protects Escherichia coli against cyanide toxicity, and here we show that physiological RhdA levels contribute to P. aeruginosa survival under cyanogenic conditions. The growth of a DeltarhdA mutant is impaired under cyanogenic conditions and fully restored upon complementation with rhdA. Wild-type P. aeruginosa outcompetes the DeltarhdA mutant in cyanogenic coculture assays. Hence, RhdA could be regarded as an effector of P. aeruginosa intrinsic resistance to cyanide, insofar as it provides the bacterium with a defense mechanism against endogenous cyanide toxicity, in addition to cyanide-resistant respiration.

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