The recent claim by Wolfe-Simon et al. that the Halomonas bacterial strain GFAJ-1 when grown in arsenate-containing medium with limiting phosphate is able to substitute phosphate with arsenate in biomolecules including nucleic acids and in particular DNA1 arose much skepticism, primarily due to the very limited chemical stability of arsenate esters (see ref. 2 and references therein). A major part of the criticisms was concerned with the insufficient (bio)chemical evidence in the Wolfe-Simon study for the actual chemical incorporation of arsenate in DNA (and/or RNA). Redfield et al. now present evidence that the identification of arsenate DNA was artifactual.
arsenate; bacteria; DNA; genetic material; life
A newly identified bacterial strain that can grow in the presence of arsenate, and possibly in the absence of phosphate, has raised much interest, but also fueled an active debate. Can arsenate substitute for phosphate in some, or possibly in most, of the absolutely essential phosphate-based biomolecules, including DNA? If so, then the possibility of alternative, arsenic-based life forms must be considered. The physicochemical similarity of these two oxyanions speaks in favor of this idea. However, arsenate-esters, and arsenate-diesters in particular, are extremely unstable in aqueous media. Here we explore the potential of arsenate to be used as substrate by phosphate-utilizing enzymes. We review the existing literature on arsenate enzymology, that intriguingly, dates back to the 1930s, and Otto Warburg. We address the issue of how and to what degree proteins can distinguish between arsenate and phosphate, and what is known in general about oxyanion specificity. And, we also discuss how phosphate-arsenate promiscuity may affect evolutionary transitions between phosphate and arsenate based biochemistry. Finally, we highlight potential applications of arsenate as a structural and mechanistic probe of enzymes whose catalyzed reactions involve the making or breaking of phosphoester bonds.
Arsenic and phosphorus are group 15 elements with similar chemical properties. Is it possible that arsenate could replace phosphate in some of the chemicals that are required for life? Phosphate esters are ubiquitous in biomolecules and are essential for life, from the sugar phosphates of intermediary metabolism to ATP to phospholipids to the phosphate backbone of DNA and RNA. Some enzymes that form phosphate esters catalyze the formation of arsenate esters. Arsenate esters hydrolyze very rapidly in aqueous solution, which makes it improbable that phosphorous could be completely replaced with arsenic to support life. Studies of bacterial growth at high arsenic:phosphorus ratios demonstrate that relatively high arsenic concentrations can be tolerated, and that arsenic can become involved in vital functions in the cell, though likely much less efficiently than phosphorus. Recently Wolfe-Simon et al.  reported the isolation of a microorganism that they maintain uses arsenic in place of phosphorus for growth. Here, we examine and evaluate their data and conclusions.
arsenate; arsenic life; ester hydrolysis; phosphate
The toxic arsenate ion can behave as a phosphate analog, and this can result in arsenate toxicity especially in areas with elevated arsenate to phosphate ratios like the surface waters of the ocean gyres. In these systems, cellular arsenate resistance strategies would allow phytoplankton to ameliorate the effects of arsenate transport into the cell. Despite the potential coupling between arsenate and phosphate cycling in oligotrophic marine waters, relatively little is known about arsenate resistance in the nitrogen-fixing marine cyanobacteria that are key components of the microbial community in low nutrient systems. The unicellular diazotroph, Crocosphaera watsonii WH8501, was able to grow at reduced rates with arsenate additions up to 30 nM, and estimated arsenate to phosphate ratios of 6:1. The genome of strain WH8501 contains homologs for arsA, arsH, arsB, and arsC, allowing for the reduction of arsenate to arsenite and the pumping of arsenite out of the cell. The short-term addition of arsenate to the growth medium had no effect on nitrogen fixation. However, arsenate addition did result in the up-regulation of the arsB gene with increasing arsenate concentrations, indicating the induction of the arsenate detoxification response. The arsB gene was also up-regulated by phosphorus stress in concert with a gene encoding the high-affinity phosphate binding protein pstS. Both genes were down-regulated when phosphate was re-fed to phosphorus-stressed cells. A field survey of surface water from the low phosphate western North Atlantic detected expression of C. watsonii arsB, suggestive of the potential importance of arsenate resistance strategies in this and perhaps other systems.
cyanobacteria; phosphorus; marine; arsenate; diazotroph; Crocosphaera
Direct viable counting of metal-resistant bacteria (DVCMR) has been found to be useful in both enumerating and differentiating metal-resistant and metal-sensitive strains of bacteria. The DVCMR bioassay was used to detect effects of low and high concentrations of arsenic and arsenicals on bacterial populations in groundwater. The level of resistance of the bacterial populations to arsenate was determined by the DVCMR bioassay, and the results showed a linear correlation with the total arsenic concentrations in the monitoring well water samples; no correlation was observed by culture methods with the methods employed. Bacteria resistant to 2,000 micrograms of arsenate per ml were isolated from all monitoring well water samples studied. Strains showed similar antibiotic and heavy-metal profiles, suggesting that the arsenic was not a highly selective pressure for arsenic alone. The monitoring well water samples were amended with arsenate and nutrients to determine the biotransformation mechanisms involved. Preliminary results suggest that bacteria indigenous to the monitoring well water samples did not directly transform, i.e., precipitate or volatilize, dissolved arsenic. It was concluded that arsenic contamination of the groundwater can be monitored by the DVCMR bioassay.
The effect of arsenate on strains dependent on the two major inorganic phosphate (Pi) transport systems in Escherichia coli was examined in cells grown in 1 mM phosphate medium. The development of arsenate-resistant Pi uptake in a strain dependent upon the Pst (phosphate specific transport) system was examined. The growth rate of Pst-dependent cells in arsenate-containing medium was a function of the arsenate-to-Pi ratio. Growth in arsenate-containing medium was not due to detoxification of the arsenate. Kinetic studies revealed that cells grown with a 10-fold excess of arsenate to Pi have almost a twofold increase in capacity (Vmax) for Pi, but maintained the same affinity (Km). Pi accumulation in the Pst-dependent strain was still sensitive to changes in the arsenate-to-Pi ratio, and a Ki (arsenate) for Pi transport of 39 microM arsenate was determined. The Pst-dependent strain did not accumulate radioactive arsenate, and showed only a transient decrease in intracellular adenosine triphosphate levels after arsenate was added to the medium. The Pi transport-dependent strain ceased growth in arsenate-containing media. This strain accumulated 74As-arsenate, and intracellular adenosine triphosphate pools were almost completely depleted after the addition of arsenate to the medium. Arsenate accumulation required a metabolizable energy source and was inhibited by N-ethylmaleimide. Previously accumulated arsenate could exchange with arsenate or Pi in the medium.
Two types of arsenate-resistant mutants of Micrococcus lysodeikticus were found: (i) mutants that grow in the presence of 10 mM but not 1 mM phosphate (Pi) with low uptake rate for Pi and arsenate, and (ii) mutants able to grow in the presence of 10 mM and 1 mM Pi, with a near-normal uptake rate for Pi but a low one for arsenate. The Km values for Pi transport and the Ki values for its competitive inhibition by arsenate were similar for the mutants and the wild type. Similar to the wild type, the mutants also accumulated Pi to high concentrations. In all strains, the transport of Pi was subject to repression by Pi. Mutant types showed lower Vmax but unaltered Km values for arsenate as compared to the wild type, and they accumulated arsenate to markedly lower levels. The results suggest a two-component transport system common to Pi and arsenate.
A recent finding of a bacterial strain (GFAJ-1) that
can rely on
arsenic instead of phosphorus raised the questions of if and how arsenate
can replace phosphate in biomolecules that are essential to sustain
cell life. Apart from questions related to chemical stability, there
are those of the structural and functional consequences of phosphate-arsenate
substitutions in vital nucleotides in GFAJ1-like cells. In this study
we selected three types of molecules (ATP/ADP as energy source and
replication regulation; DNA–protein complexes for DNA replication
and transcription initiation; and a tRNA–protein complex and
ribosome for protein synthesis) to computationally probe if arsenate
nucleotides can retain the structural and functional features of phosphate
nucleotides. Hydrolysis of adenosine triarsenate provides 2–3
kcal/mol less energy than ATP hydrolysis. Arsenate DNA/RNA interacts
with proteins slightly less strongly than phosphate DNA/RNA, mainly
due to the weaker electrostatic interactions of arsenate. We observed
that the weaker arsenate RNA–protein interactions may hamper
rRNA assembly into a functional ribosome. We further compared the
experimental EXAFS spectra of the arsenic bacteria with theoretical
EXAFS spectra for arsenate DNA and rRNA. Our results demonstrate that
while it is possible that dried GFAJ-1 cells contain linear arsenate
DNA, the arsenate 70S ribosome does not contribute to the main arsenate
depository in the GFAJ-1 cell. Our study indicates that evolution
has optimized the inter-relationship between proteins and DNA/RNA,
which requires overall changes at the molecular and systems biology
levels when replacing phosphate by arsenate.
In studying formation of an arsenic-lipid complex during the active transport of 74As-arsenate in yeast, it was found that adaptation of yeast to arsenate resulted in cell populations which showed a deficient inflow of arsenate as compared to the nonadapted yeast. Experiments with both types of cells showed a direct correlation between the arsenate taken up and the amount of As-lipid complex formed. 74As-arsenate was bound exclusively to the phosphoinositide fraction of the cellular lipids. When arsenate transport was inhibited by dinitrophenol and sodium azide, the formation of the As-lipid complex was also inhibited. Phosphate did not interfere with the arsenate transport at a non-inhibitory concentration of external arsenate (10−9m). The As-adapted cells but not the unadapted cells were able to take up phosphate when growing in the presence of 10−2m arsenate.
Corynebacterium glutamicum is able to grow in media containing up to 12 mM arsenite and 500 mM arsenate and is one of the most arsenic-resistant microorganisms described to date. Two operons (ars1 and ars2) involved in arsenate and arsenite resistance have been identified in the complete genome sequence of Corynebacterium glutamicum. The operons ars1 and ars2 are located some distance from each other in the bacterial chromosome, but they are both composed of genes encoding a regulatory protein (arsR), an arsenite permease (arsB), and an arsenate reductase (arsC); operon ars1 contains an additional arsenate reductase gene (arsC1′) located immediately downstream from arsC1. Additional arsenite permease and arsenate reductase genes (arsB3 and arsC4) scattered on the chromosome were also identified. The involvement of ars operons in arsenic resistance in C. glutamicum was confirmed by gene disruption experiments of the three arsenite permease genes present in its genome. Wild-type and arsB3 insertional mutant C. glutamicum strains were able to grow with up to 12 mM arsenite, whereas arsB1 and arsB2 C. glutamicum insertional mutants were resistant to 4 mM and 9 mM arsenite, respectively. The double arsB1-arsB2 insertional mutant was resistant to only 0.4 mM arsenite and 10 mM arsenate. Gene amplification assays of operons ars1 and ars2 in C. glutamicum revealed that the recombinant strains containing the ars1 operon were resistant to up to 60 mM arsenite, this being one of the highest levels of bacterial resistance to arsenite so far described, whereas recombinant strains containing operon ars2 were resistant to only 20 mM arsenite. Northern blot and reverse transcription-PCR analysis confirmed the presence of transcripts for all the ars genes, the expression of arsB3 and arsC4 being constitutive, and the expression of arsR1, arsB1, arsC1, arsC1′, arsR2, arsB2, and arsC2 being inducible by arsenite.
Harold, F. M. (National Jewish Hospital, Denver, Colo.), and J. R. Baarda. Interaction of arsenate with phosphate-transport systems in wild-type and mutant Streptococcus faecalis. J. Bacteriol. 91:2257–2262. 1966.—Arsenate competitively inhibits the growth of Streptococcus faecalis, primarily by competition with phosphate for a common transport system. Arsenate is itself accumulated by the cells; the uptake requires metabolic energy, and the intracellular arsenate level may reach 0.01 m. Cells loaded with arsenate have lost the capacity to take up radioactive glutamate, rubidium, phosphate, or arsenate itself, apparently by the uncoupling of adenosine triphosphate generation. The pH dependence of arsenate uptake is complex. At low concentrations of extracellular arsenate, uptake by the wild-type strain 9790 exhibits a single maximum about pH 8; mutant PT-1, previously shown to be defective in phosphate uptake, takes up essentially no arsenate. At high concentrations of arsenate, uptake by the wild type is bimodal with maxima at pH 5.5 and 9; the uptake curve for mutant PT-1 corresponds to the shoulder in the curve for the wild type. The apparent dissociation constant for arsenate uptake by the wild type is approximately 10−5m from pH 5 to 9, whereas that for mutant PT-1 is about 5 × 10−5 M at pH 5 and rises rapidly with increasing pH. The results confirm the earlier conclusion that the lesion in mutant PT-1 resides in the transport of phosphate and arsenate. It is proposed that the wild type has two distinct transport systems, whereas the mutant has lost the one with alkaline pH optimum.
Arsenic (As) is a natural metalloid, widely used in anthropogenic activities, that can exist in different oxidation states. Throughout the world, there are several environments contaminated with high amounts of arsenic where many organisms can survive. The most stable arsenical species are arsenate and arsenite that can be subject to chemically and microbiologically oxidation, reduction and methylation reactions. Organisms surviving in arsenic contaminated environments can have a diversity of mechanisms to resist to the harmful effects of arsenical compounds.
The highly metal resistant Ochrobactrum tritici SCII24 was able to grow in media with arsenite (50 mM), arsenate (up to 200 mM) and antimonite (10 mM). This strain contains two arsenic and antimony resistance operons (ars1 and ars2), which were cloned and sequenced. Sequence analysis indicated that ars1 operon contains five genes encoding the following proteins: ArsR, ArsD, ArsA, CBS-domain-containing protein and ArsB. The ars2 operon is composed of six genes that encode two other ArsR, two ArsC (belonging to different families of arsenate reductases), one ACR3 and one ArsH-like protein. The involvement of ars operons in arsenic resistance was confirmed by cloning both of them in an Escherichia coli ars-mutant. The ars1 operon conferred resistance to arsenite and antimonite on E. coli cells, whereas the ars2 operon was also responsible for resistance to arsenite and arsenate. Although arsH was not required for arsenate resistance, this gene seems to be important to confer high levels of arsenite resistance. None of ars1 genes were detected in the other type strains of genus Ochrobactrum, but sequences homologous with ars2 operon were identified in some strains.
A new strategy for bacterial arsenic resistance is described in this work. Two operons involved in arsenic resistance, one giving resistance to arsenite and antimonite and the other giving resistance to arsenate were found in the same bacterial strain.
Weathering of the As-rich pyrite-rich tailings of the abandoned mining site of Carnoulès (southeastern France) results in the formation of acid waters heavily loaded with arsenic. Dissolved arsenic present in the seepage waters precipitates within a few meters from the bottom of the tailing dam in the presence of microorganisms. An Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans strain, referred to as CC1, was isolated from the effluents. This strain was able to remove arsenic from a defined synthetic medium only when grown on ferrous iron. This A. ferrooxidans strain did not oxidize arsenite to arsenate directly or indirectly. Strain CC1 precipitated arsenic unexpectedly as arsenite but not arsenate, with ferric iron produced by its energy metabolism. Furthermore, arsenite was almost not found adsorbed on jarosite but associated with a poorly ordered schwertmannite. Arsenate is known to efficiently precipitate with ferric iron and sulfate in the form of more or less ordered schwertmannite, depending on the sulfur-to-arsenic ratio. Our data demonstrate that the coprecipitation of arsenite with schwertmannite also appears as a potential mechanism of arsenite removal in heavily contaminated acid waters. The removal of arsenite by coprecipitation with ferric iron appears to be a common property of the A. ferrooxidans species, as such a feature was observed with one private and three collection strains, one of which was the type strain.
Rhizobium–legume symbiotic interaction is an efficient model system for soil remediation and reclamation. We earlier isolated an arsenic (As) (2.8 mM arsenate) tolerant and symbiotically effective Rhizobium strain, VMA301 from Vigna mungo and in this study we further characterized its efficacy for arsenic removal from the soil and its nitrogen fixation capacity. Although nodule formation is delayed in plants with As-treated composite when the inoculum was prepared without arsenic in culture medium, whereas it attains the significant number of nodules compare to plant grown in As-free soil when the inoculum was prepared with arsenic supplemented medium. Arsenic accumulation was higher in roots than root nodules. Nitrogenase activity is reduced to almost 2 fold in plants with As-treated soil but not abolished. These results suggest that this strain, VMA301, has been able to establish an effective symbiotic interaction in V. mungo in As-contaminated soil and can perform dual role of arsenic bioremediation as well as soil nitrogen improvement.
Arsenic toxicity; Bioremediation; Nodulation; Rhizobium–legume symbiosis; V. mungo
The ars gene system provides arsenic resistance for a variety of microorganisms and can be chromosomal or plasmid-borne. The arsC gene, which codes for an arsenate reductase is essential for arsenate resistance and transforms arsenate into arsenite, which is extruded from the cell. A survey of GenBank shows that arsC appears to be phylogenetically widespread both in organisms with known arsenic resistance and those organisms that have been sequenced as part of whole genome projects.
Phylogenetic analysis of aligned arsC sequences shows broad similarities to the established 16S rRNA phylogeny, with separation of bacterial, archaeal, and subsequently eukaryotic arsC genes. However, inconsistencies between arsC and 16S rRNA are apparent for some taxa. Cyanobacteria and some of the γ-Proteobacteria appear to possess arsC genes that are similar to those of Low GC Gram-positive Bacteria, and other isolated taxa possess arsC genes that would not be expected based on known evolutionary relationships. There is no clear separation of plasmid-borne and chromosomal arsC genes, although a number of the Enterobacteriales (γ-Proteobacteria) possess similar plasmid-encoded arsC sequences.
The overall phylogeny of the arsenate reductases suggests a single, early origin of the arsC gene and subsequent sequence divergence to give the distinct arsC classes that exist today. Discrepancies between 16S rRNA and arsC phylogenies support the role of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in the evolution of arsenate reductases, with a number of instances of HGT early in bacterial arsC evolution. Plasmid-borne arsC genes are not monophyletic suggesting multiple cases of chromosomal-plasmid exchange and subsequent HGT. Overall, arsC phylogeny is complex and is likely the result of a number of evolutionary mechanisms.
Anoxic bottom water from Mono Lake, California, can biologically reduce added arsenate without any addition of electron donors. Of the possible in situ inorganic electron donors present, only sulfide was sufficiently abundant to drive this reaction. We tested the ability of sulfide to serve as an electron donor for arsenate reduction in experiments with lake water. Reduction of arsenate to arsenite occurred simultaneously with the removal of sulfide. No loss of sulfide occurred in controls without arsenate or in sterilized samples containing both arsenate and sulfide. The rate of arsenate reduction in lake water was dependent on the amount of available arsenate. We enriched for a bacterium that could achieve growth with sulfide and arsenate in a defined, mineral medium and purified it by serial dilution. The isolate, strain MLMS-1, is a gram-negative, motile curved rod that grows by oxidizing sulfide to sulfate while reducing arsenate to arsenite. Chemoautotrophy was confirmed by the incorporation of H14CO3− into dark-incubated cells, but preliminary gene probing tests with primers for ribulose-1,5-biphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase did not yield PCR-amplified products. Alignment of 16S rRNA sequences indicated that strain MLMS-1 was in the δ-Proteobacteria, located near sulfate reducers like Desulfobulbus sp. (88 to 90% similarity) but more closely related (97%) to unidentified sequences amplified previously from Mono Lake. However, strain MLMS-1 does not grow with sulfate as its electron acceptor.
Groundwater contaminated with arsenic imposes a big challenge to human health worldwide. Using natural compounds to subvert the detrimental effects of arsenic represents an attractive strategy. The transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a critical regulator of the cellular antioxidant response and xenobiotic metabolism. Recently, activation of the Nrf2 signaling pathway has been reported to confer protection against arsenic-induced toxicity in a cell culture model.
The goal of the present work was to identify a potent Nrf2 activator from plants as a chemopreventive compound and to demonstrate the efficacy of the compound in battling arsenic-induced toxicity.
Oridonin activated the Nrf2 signaling pathway at a low subtoxic dose and was able to stabilize Nrf2 by blocking Nrf2 ubiquitination and degradation, leading to accumulation of the Nrf2 protein and activation of the Nrf2-dependent cytoprotective response. Pretreatment of UROtsa cells with 1.4 μM oridonin significantly enhanced the cellular redox capacity, reduced formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and improved cell survival after arsenic challenge.
We identified oridonin as representing a novel class of Nrf2 activators and illustrated the mechanism by which the Nrf2 pathway is activated. Furthermore, we demonstrated the feasibility of using natural compounds targeting Nrf2 as a therapeutic approach to protect humans from various environmental insults that may occur daily.
antioxidant responsive element; antitumor; ARE; arsenic; chemoprevention; diterpenoid; Keap1; Nrf2; oridonin; oxidative stress; rubescensin
Cells of the cyanobacterium Anabaena variabilis starved for phosphate for 3 days took up phosphate at about 100 times the rate of unstarved cells. Kinetic data suggested that a new transport system had been induced by starvation for phosphate. The inducible phosphate transport system was quickly repressed by addition of Pi. Phosphate-starved cells were more sensitive to the toxic effects of arsenate than were unstarved cells, but phosphate could alleviate some of the toxicity. Arsenate was a noncompetitive inhibitor of phosphate transport; however, the apparent Ki values were high, particularly for phosphate-replete cells. Preincubation of phosphate-starved cells with arsenate caused subsequent inhibition of phosphate transport, suggesting that intracellular arsenate inhibited phosphate transport. This effect was not seen in phosphate-replete cells.
This paper presents views on the current status of (inorganic) arsenic risk assessment in the United States and recommends research needed to set standards for drinking water. The opinions are those of the Arsenic Task Force of the Society for Environmental Geochemistry and Health, which has met periodically since 1991 to study issues related to arsenic risk assessment and has held workshops and international conferences on arsenic.The topic of this paper is made timely by current scientific interest in exposure to and adverse health effects of arsenic in the United States and passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendment of 1996, which has provisions for a research program on arsenic and a schedule mandating the EPA to revise the maximum contaminant level of arsenic in drinking water by the year 2001. Our central premise and recommendations are straightforward: the risk of adverse health effects associated with arsenic in drinking water is unknown for low arsenic concentrations found in the United States, such as at the current interim maximum contaminant level of 50 microg/l and below. Arsenic-related research should be directed at answering that question. New epidemiological studies are needed to provide data for reliable dose-response assessments of arsenic and for skin cancer, bladder cancer, or other endpoints to be used by the EPA for regulation. Further toxicological research, along with the observational data from epidemiology, is needed to determine if the dose-response relationship at low levels is more consistent with the current assumption of low-dose linearity or the existence of a practical threshold. Other recommendations include adding foodborne arsenic to the calculation of total arsenic intake, calculation of total arsenic intake, and encouraging cooperative research within the United States and between the United States and affected countries.
Arsenic contamination in groundwater in Bangladesh has become an additional concern vis-à-vis its use for irrigation purposes. Even if arsenic-safe drinking-water is assured, the question of irrigating soils with arsenic-laden groundwater will continue for years to come. Immediate attention should be given to assess the possibility of accumulating arsenic in soils through irrigation-water and its subsequent entry into the food-chain through various food crops and fodders. With this possibility in mind, arsenic content of 2,500 water, soil and vegetable samples from arsenic-affected and arsenic-unaffected areas were analyzed during 1999–2004. Other sources of foods and fodders were also analyzed. Irrigating a rice field with groundwater containing 0.55 mg/L of arsenic with a water requirement of 1,000 mm results in an estimated addition of 5.5 kg of arsenic per ha per annum. Concentration of arsenic as high as 80 mg per kg of soil was found in an area receiving arsenic-contaminated irrigation. A comparison of results from affected and unaffected areas revealed that some commonly-grown vegetables, which would usually be suitable as good sources of nourishment, accumulate substantially-elevated amounts of arsenic. For example, more than 150 mg/kg of arsenic has been found to be accumulated in arum (kochu) vegetable. Implications of arsenic ingested in vegetables and other food materials are discussed in the paper.
Arsenic; Arsenic contamination; Food; Plants; Colocassia antiquorum; Bioavailability; Bangladesh
The ubiquity of arsenic in the environment has led to the evolution of enzymes for arsenic detoxification. An initial step in arsenic metabolism is the enzymatic reduction of arsenate [As(V)] to arsenite [As(III)]. At least three families of arsenate reductase enzymes have arisen, apparently by convergent evolution. The properties of two of these are described here. The first is the prokaryotic ArsC arsenate reductase of Escherichia coli. The second, Acr2p of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is the only identified eukaryotic arsenate reductase. Although unrelated to each other, both enzymes receive their reducing equivalents from glutaredoxin and reduced glutathione. The structure of the bacterial ArsC has been solved at 1.65 A. As predicted from its biochemical properties, ArsC structures with covalent enzyme-arsenic intermediates that include either As(V) or As(III) were observed. The yeast Acr2p has an active site motif HC(X)(5)R that is conserved in protein phosphotyrosine phosphatases and rhodanases, suggesting that these three groups of enzymes may have evolved from an ancestral oxyanion-binding protein.
Arsenic is present in numerous ecosystems and microorganisms have developed various mechanisms to live in such hostile environments. Herminiimonas arsenicoxydans, a bacterium isolated from arsenic contaminated sludge, has acquired remarkable capabilities to cope with arsenic. In particular our previous studies have suggested the existence of a temporal induction of arsenite oxidase, a key enzyme in arsenic metabolism, in the presence of As(III).
Microarrays were designed to compare gene transcription profiles under a temporal As(III) exposure. Transcriptome kinetic analysis demonstrated the existence of two phases in arsenic response. The expression of approximatively 14% of the whole genome was significantly affected by an As(III) early stress and 4% by an As(III) late exposure. The early response was characterized by arsenic resistance, oxidative stress, chaperone synthesis and sulfur metabolism. The late response was characterized by arsenic metabolism and associated mechanisms such as phosphate transport and motility. The major metabolic changes were confirmed by chemical, transcriptional, physiological and biochemical experiments. These early and late responses were defined as general stress response and specific response to As(III), respectively.
Gene expression patterns suggest that the exposure to As(III) induces an acute response to rapidly minimize the immediate effects of As(III). Upon a longer arsenic exposure, a broad metabolic response was induced. These data allowed to propose for the first time a kinetic model of the As(III) response in bacteria.
Arsenic is one of the most important global environmental pollutants. Here we show that the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 contains an arsenic and antimony resistance operon consisting of three genes: arsB, encoding a putative arsenite and antimonite carrier, arsH, encoding a protein of unknown function, and arsC, encoding a putative arsenate reductase. While arsB mutant strains were sensitive to arsenite, arsenate, and antimonite, arsC mutants were sensitive only to arsenate. The arsH mutant strain showed no obvious phenotype under the conditions tested. In vivo the arsBHC operon was derepressed by oxyanions of arsenic and antimony (oxidation state, +3) and, to a lesser extent, by bismuth (oxidation state, +3) and arsenate (oxidation state, +5). In the absence of these effectors, the operon was repressed by a transcription repressor of the ArsR/SmtB family, encoded by an unlinked gene termed arsR. Thus, arsR null mutants showed constitutive derepression of the arsBHC operon. Expression of the arsR gene was not altered by the presence of arsenic or antimony compounds. Purified recombinant ArsR protein binds to the arsBHC promoter-operator region in the absence of metals and dissociates from the DNA in the presence of Sb(III) or As(III) but not in the presence of As(V), suggesting that trivalent metalloids are the true inducers of the system. DNase I footprinting experiments indicate that ArsR binds to two 17-bp direct repeats, with each one consisting of two inverted repeats, in the region from nucleotides −34 to + 17 of the arsBHC promoter-operator.
Phosphate inhibited the formation of trimethylarsine from arsenite, arsenate, and monomethylarsonate, but not from dimethylarsinate, by growing cultures of Candida humicola. Phosphite suppressed trimethylarsine production by growing cultures from monomethylarsonate but not from arsenate and dimethylarsinate, and hypophosphite caused a temporary inhibition of both proliferation and the conversion of these three arsenic sources to trimethylarsine. Resting cells of C. humicola derived from cultures grown in arsenic-free media generated the volatile arsenical only after a lag phase. High antimonate concentrations reduced the rate of conversion of arsenate to trimethylarsine by resting cells, but nitrate was without effect.
Arsenic resistance in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 is mediated by an operon of three genes in which arsC codes for an arsenate reductase with unique characteristics. Here we describe the identification of two additional and nearly identical genes coding for arsenate reductases in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803, which we have designed arsI1 and arsI2, and the biochemical characterization of both ArsC (arsenate reductase) and ArsI. Functional analysis of single, double, and triple mutants shows that both ArsI enzymes are active arsenate reductases but that their roles in arsenate resistance are essential only in the absence of ArsC. Based on its biochemical properties, ArsC belongs to a family that, though related to thioredoxin-dependent arsenate reductases, uses the glutathione/glutaredoxin system for reduction, whereas ArsI belongs to the previously known glutaredoxin-dependent family. We have also analyzed the role in arsenate resistance of the three glutaredoxins present in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 both in vitro and in vivo. Only the dithiolic glutaredoxins, GrxA (glutaredoxin A) and GrxB (glutaredoxin B), are able to donate electrons to both types of reductases in vitro, while GrxC (glutaredoxin C), a monothiolic glutaredoxin, is unable to donate electrons to either type. Analysis of glutaredoxin mutant strains revealed that only those lacking the grxA gene have impaired arsenic resistance.