Many eubacteria are resistant to the toxic oxidizing agent potassium tellurite, and tellurite resistance involves diverse biochemical mechanisms. Expression of the iscS gene from Geobacillus stearothermophilus V, which is naturally resistant to tellurite, confers tellurite resistance in Escherichia coli K-12, which is naturally sensitive to tellurite. The G. stearothermophilus iscS gene encodes a cysteine desulfurase, A site-directed mutation in iscS that prevents binding of its pyridoxal phosphate cofactor abolishes both enzyme activity and its ability to confer tellurite resistance in E. coli. Expression of the G. stearothermophilus iscS gene confers tellurite resistance in tellurite-hypersensitive E. coli iscS and sodA sodB mutants (deficient in superoxide dismutase) and complements the auxotrophic requirement of an E. coli iscS mutant for thiamine but not for nicotinic acid, These and other results support the hypothesis that the reduction of tellurite generates superoxide anions and that the primary targets of superoxide damage in E. coli are enzymes with iron-sulfur clusters.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology