Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Crit Rev Microbiol. 1987;15(2):117-40.

The genetics and biochemistry of mercury resistance.

Author information

  • 1Department of Microbiology, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.


The ability of bacteria to detoxify mercurial compounds by reduction and volatilization is conferred by mer genes, which are usually plasmid located. The narrow spectrum (Hg2+ detoxifying) Tn501 and R100 determinants have been subjected to molecular genetic and DNA sequence analysis. Biochemical studies on the flavoprotein mercuric reductase have elucidated the mechanism of reduction of Hg2+ to Hg0. The mer genes have been mapped and sequenced and their protein products studied in minicells. Based on the deduced amino acid sequences, these proteins have been assigned a role in a mechanistic scheme for mercury flux in resistant bacteria. The mer genes are inducible, with regulatory control being exerted at the transcriptional level both positively and negatively. Attention is now focusing on broad-spectrum resistance involving detoxification of organomercurials by an additional enzyme, organomercurial lyase. Lyase genes have recently been cloned and sequencing studies are in progress.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Taylor & Francis
    Loading ...
    Support Center