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J Biol Chem. 1991 Jan 15;266(2):824-9.

Magnesium transport in Salmonella typhimurium. Regulation of mgtA and mgtB expression.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106.


Salmonella typhimurium contains three distinct transport systems (CorA, MgtA, and MgtB) that move Mg2+ across the cytoplasmic membrane. Mutant strains containing only one of these three systems have been constructed and used to study each system in isolation. Characterization of these systems has been hampered, however, by the need to use 28Mg2+, a relatively unavailable, extremely expensive, and short lived radioisotope. This paper reports that 63Ni2+ is transported into the cell by all three of the S typhimurium Mg2+ transport systems. In a strain deficient in all three systems, uptake of 63Ni2+ was undetectable under the conditions used. Comparison of 63Ni2+ uptake kinetics and inhibition of 63Ni2+ transport by other divalent cations suggest that Ni2+ can be used as an analog of Mg2+ in the study of these three transport systems. Using 63Ni2+ to measure uptake, the effect of Mg2+ levels in the growth medium on transport by each system was tested. Transport by the CorA system was unaffected by changes in the amount of Mg2+ in the growth medium. In contrast, uptake via MgtA and MgtB was significantly increased in cells grown in 10 microM extracellular Mg2+ compared to cells grown in 10 mM Mg2+. The increases in uptake were the result of increases in Vmax without change in Km. This result suggests that, in low Mg2+ medium, cells contained higher levels of the transporters. Production of beta-galactosidase from mgtA::lacZ and mgtB::lacZ but not corA::lacZ fusions was also increased when cells were grown in low extracellular concentrations of Mg2+ indicating that the regulation occurs at the level of transcription. Expression of beta-galactosidase was also inhibited by the addition of other divalent cations including Ca2+ and Mn2+. Regulation of transcription from the mgtA and mgtB promoters was similar over the range of extracellular Mg2+ concentrations from 10 microM to 10 mM. At 1 microM, however, transcription from the mgtB promoter, as measured by beta-galactosidase levels in a mgtB::lacZ transcriptional fusion strain, was increased over 800-fold, and Ca2+ could no longer inhibit transcription effectively. In contrast, growth at 1 microM extracellular Mg2+ increased transcription from the mgtA promoter only about 30-fold and Ca2+ could still inhibit this increase. These results suggest that at least two distinct mechanisms are responsible for regulation of the mgtA and mgtB transcription in response to extracellular cation concentration.

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