PloS one

Nickel-resistance determinants in Acidiphilium sp. PM identified by genome-wide functional screening.

PMID 24740277


Acidiphilium spp. are conspicuous dwellers of acidic, metal-rich environments. Indeed, they are among the most metal-resistant organisms; yet little is known about the mechanisms behind the metal tolerance in this genus. Acidiphilium sp. PM is an environmental isolate from Rio Tinto, an acidic, metal-laden river located in southwestern Spain. The characterization of its metal resistance revealed a remarkable ability to tolerate high Ni concentrations. Here we report the screening of a genomic library of Acidiphilium sp. PM to identify genes involved in Ni resistance. This approach revealed seven different genes conferring Ni resistance to E. coli, two of which form an operon encoding the ATP-dependent protease HslVU (ClpQY). This protease was found to enhance resistance to both Ni and Co in E. coli, a function not previously reported. Other Ni-resistance determinants include genes involved in lipopolysaccharide biosynthesis and the synthesis of branched amino acids. The diversity of molecular functions of the genes recovered in the screening suggests that Ni resistance in Acidiphilium sp. PM probably relies on different molecular mechanisms.