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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1987 Aug;84(15):5106-10.

Nucleotide sequence and expression of the mercurial-resistance operon from Staphylococcus aureus plasmid pI258.


The mercurial-resistance determinant from Staphylococcus aureus plasmid pI258 is located on a 6.4-kilobase-pair Bgl II fragment. The determinant was cloned into both Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli. Mercury resistance was found only in B. subtilis. The 6404-base-pair DNA sequence of the Bgl II fragment was determined. The mer DNA sequence includes seven open reading frames, two of which have been identified by homology with the merA (mercuric reductase) and merB (organomercurial lyase) genes from the mercurial-resistance determinants of Gram-negative bacteria. Whereas 40% of the amino acid residues overall were identical between the pI258 merA polypeptide product and mercuric reductases from Gram-negative bacteria, the percentage identity in the active-site positions and those thought to be involved in NADPH and FAD contacts was above 90%. The 216 amino acid organomercurial lyase sequence was 39% identical with that from a Serratia plasmid, with higher conservation in the middle of the sequences and lower homologies at the amino and carboxyl termini. The remaining five open reading frames in the pI258 mer sequence have no significant homologies with the genes from previously sequenced Gram-negative mer operons.

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