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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2013 Jan;83(1):135-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2012.01460.x. Epub 2012 Aug 20.

The mercury resistance (mer) operon in a marine gliding flavobacterium, Tenacibaculum discolor 9A5.

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1
Program in Molecular Biology, Pomona College, Claremont, CA, USA.

Abstract

Genes conferring mercury resistance have been investigated in a variety of bacteria and archaea but not in bacteria of the phylum Bacteroidetes, despite their importance in many environments. We found, however, that a marine gliding Bacteroidetes species, Tenacibaculum discolor, was the predominant mercury-resistant bacterial taxon cultured from a salt marsh fertilized with mercury-contaminated sewage sludge. Here we report characterization of the mercuric reductase and the narrow-spectrum mercury resistance (mer) operon from one of these strains - T. discolor 9A5. This mer operon, which confers mercury resistance when cloned into Flavobacterium johnsoniae, encodes a novel mercury-responsive ArsR/SmtB family transcriptional regulator that appears to have evolved independently from other mercury-responsive regulators, a novel putative transport protein consisting of a fusion between the integral membrane Hg(II) transporter MerT and the periplasmic Hg(II)-binding protein MerP, an additional MerP protein, and a mercuric reductase that is phylogenetically distinct from other known mercuric reductases.

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