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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2017 Dec 29;364(24). doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnx241.

Tellurate enters Escherichia coli K-12 cells via the SulT-type sulfate transporter CysPUWA.


Soluble forms of tellurium are environmental contaminants that are toxic to microorganisms. While tellurite [Te(IV)] is a well-characterized antimicrobial agent, little is known about the interactions of tellurate [Te(VI)] with bacterial cells. In this study, we investigated the role of sulfate transporters in the uptake of tellurate in Escherichia coli K-12. Mutant strains carrying a deletion of the cysW gene in the CysPUWA sulfate transporter system accumulated less cellular tellurium and exhibited higher resistance to tellurate compared with the wild-type strain. Complementation of the mutation restored tellurate sensitivity and uptake. These results indicate that tellurate enters E. coli cells to cause toxic effects via the CysPUWA sulfate transporter.


elemental tellurium; reduction; resistance; sulfate; tellurate; transporter

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