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Cell Biol Toxicol. 2013 Dec;29(6):397-405. doi: 10.1007/s10565-013-9262-1. Epub 2013 Sep 27.

Molecular basis of active copper resistance mechanisms in Gram-negative bacteria.

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Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Biology and Environment Protection, University of Silesia, JagielloĊ„ska 28, 40-032, Katowice, Poland,


Copper is a metallic element that is crucial for cell metabolism; however, in extended concentrations, it is toxic for all living organisms. The dual nature of copper has forced organisms, including bacteria, to keep a tight hold on cellular copper content. This challenge has led to the evolution of complex mechanisms that on one hand enable them to deliver the essential element and on the other to protect cells against its toxicity. Such mechanisms have been found in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. In bacteria a number of different systems such as extra- and intracellular sequestration, enzymatic detoxification, and metal removal from the cell enabling them to survive in the presence of high concentration of copper have been identified. Gram-negative bacteria, due to their additional compartment, need to deal with both cytoplasmic and periplasmic copper. Therefore, these bacteria have evolved intricate and precisely regulated systems which interact with each other. In this review the active mechanisms of copper resistance at their molecular level are discussed.

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