Scientific reports

ZnuA and zinc homeostasis in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

PMID 26290475


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a ubiquitous environmental bacterium and a clinically significant opportunistic human pathogen. Central to the ability of P. aeruginosa to colonise both environmental and host niches is the acquisition of zinc. Here we show that P. aeruginosa PAO1 acquires zinc via an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) permease in which ZnuA is the high affinity, zinc-specific binding protein. Zinc uptake in Gram-negative organisms predominantly occurs via an ABC permease, and consistent with this expectation a P. aeruginosa ΔznuA mutant strain showed an ~60% reduction in cellular zinc accumulation, while other metal ions were essentially unaffected. Despite the major reduction in zinc accumulation, minimal phenotypic differences were observed between the wild-type and ΔznuA mutant strains. However, the effect of zinc limitation on the transcriptome of P. aeruginosa PAO1 revealed significant changes in gene expression that enable adaptation to low-zinc conditions. Genes significantly up-regulated included non-zinc-requiring paralogs of zinc-dependent proteins and a number of novel import pathways associated with zinc acquisition. Collectively, this study provides new insight into the acquisition of zinc by P. aeruginosa PAO1, revealing a hitherto unrecognized complexity in zinc homeostasis that enables the bacterium to survive under zinc limitation.