Evidence for direct interactions between the mercuric ion transporter (MerT) and mercuric reductase (MerA) from the Tn501 mer operon.

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Mercuric ion resistance in bacteria requires transport of mercuric ions (Hg(2+)) into the cytoplasmic compartment where they are reduced to the less toxic metallic mercury (Hg(0)) by mercuric reductase (MR). The long-established model for the resistance mechanism predicts interactions between the inner membrane mercuric ion transporter, MerT, and the N-terminal domain of cytoplasmic MR, but attempts to demonstrate this interaction have thus far been unsuccessful. A recently developed bacterial two-hybrid protein interaction detection system was used to show that the N-terminal region of MR interacts with the cytoplasmic face of MerT. We also show that the cysteine residues on the cytoplasmic face of the MerT protein are required for maximal mercuric ion transport but not for the interaction with mercuric reductase.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-16
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2008


  • protein-protein interactions, mercuric ion reductase, mercuric ion transport