Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Chem Biol. 2008 Oct;4(10):609-16. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.109. Epub 2008 Aug 24.

Identification of a copper-binding metallothionein in pathogenic mycobacteria.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Weill Cornell Medical College, 1300 York Avenue, New York, New York 10065, USA.


A screen of a genomic library from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) identified a small, unannotated open reading frame (MT0196) that encodes a 4.9-kDa, cysteine-rich protein. Despite extensive nucleotide divergence, the amino acid sequence is highly conserved among mycobacteria that are pathogenic in vertebrate hosts. We synthesized the protein and found that it preferentially binds up to six Cu(I) ions in a solvent-shielded core. Copper, cadmium and compounds that generate nitric oxide or superoxide induced the gene's expression in Mtb up to 1,000-fold above normal expression. The native protein bound copper within Mtb and partially protected Mtb from copper toxicity. We propose that the product of the MT0196 gene be named mycobacterial metallothionein (MymT). To our knowledge, MymT is the first metallothionein of a Gram-positive bacterium with a demonstrated function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center