Nickel and cobalt resistance engineered in Escherichia coli by overexpression of serine acetyltransferase from the nickel hyperaccumulator plant Thlaspi goesingense

John L. Freeman, M W Persans, K Nieman, David Edward Salt

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The overexpression of serine acetyltransferase from the Ni-hyperaccumulating plant Thlaspi goesingense causes enhanced nickel and cobalt resistance in Escherichia coli. Furthermore, overexpression of T. goesingense serine acetyltransferase results in enhanced sensitivity to cadmium and has no significant effect on resistance to zinc. Enhanced nickel resistance is directly related to the constitutive overactivation of sulfur assimilation and glutathione biosynthesis, driven by the overproduction of O-acetyl-L-serine, the product of serine acetyltransferase and a positive regulator of the cysteine regulon. Nickel in the serine acetyltransferase-overexpressing strains is not detoxified by coordination or precipitation with sulfur, suggesting that glutathione is involved in reducing the oxidative damage imposed by nickel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8627-8633
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


  • phytochelatin synthase
  • metal ions
  • biosynthesis
  • accumulation
  • mechanisms
  • tolerance
  • toxicity
  • stress

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