Genetic modifications of metallothionein enhance the tolerance and bioaccumulation of heavy metals in Escherichia coli
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AbstractMetallothioneins (MTs) are low molecular weight cysteine-rich proteins that bind to metals. Owing to their high cysteine (Cys) content, MTs are effective mediators of heavy metal detoxification. To enhance the heavy metal binding ability of MT from the freshwater crab Sinopotamon henanense (ShMT), sequence-based multiple sequence alignment (MSA) and structure-based molecular docking simulation (MDS) were conducted in order to identify amino acid residues that could be mutated to bolster such metal-binding activity. Site-directed mutagenesis was then used to modify the primary structure of ShMT, and the recombinant proteins were further enhanced using the SUMO fusion expression system to yield SUMO-ShMT1, SUMO-ShMT2, and SUMO-ShMT3 harboring one-, two-, and three- point mutations, respectively. The resultant modified proteins were primarily expressed in a soluble form and exhibited the ability to readily bind to heavy metals. Importantly, these modified proteins exhibited significantly enhanced heavy metal binding capacities, and they improved Cd2+, Cu2+ and Zn2+ tolerance and bioaccumulation in Escherichia coli (E. coli) in a manner dependent upon the number of introduced point mutations (SUMO-ShMT3 > SUMO-ShMT2 > SUMO-ShMT1 > SUMO-ShMT > control). Indeed, E. coli cells harboring the pET28a-SUMO-ShMT3 expression vector exhibited maximal Cd2+, Cu2+, and Zn2+ bioaccumulation that was increased by 1.86 ± 0.02-, 1.71 ± 0.03-, and 2.13 ± 0.02-fold relative to that in E. coli harboring the pET28a-SUMO-ShMT vector. The present study offers a basis for the preparation of genetically engineered bacteria that are better able to bioaccumulate and tolerate heavy metals, thus providing a foundation for biological heavy metal water pollution treatment.
CitationLi X, Ren Z, Crabbe MJC, Wang L, Ma W (2021) 'Genetic modifications of metallothionein enhance the tolerance and bioaccumulation of heavy metals in Escherichia coli', Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 222 (112512)
SponsorsThis work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31672293), China. the Overseas Returnee Research Fund in Shanxi Province (2016-005, 2016-Key1), Shanxi Province, China. Key Research and Development Project of Shanxi Province (201703D221008-3), Shanxi Province, China.
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