Main content area

Functional characterization of the twin ZIP/SLC39 metal transporters, NpunF3111 and NpunF2202 in Nostoc punctiforme

Hudek, L., Pearson, L. A., Michalczyk, A., Neilan, B. A., Ackland, M. L.
Applied microbiology and biotechnology 2013 v.97 no.19 pp. 8649-8662
Cyanobacterium, Escherichia coli, Nostoc punctiforme, cadmium, cations, cobalt, copper, enzymes, gene overexpression, genes, insertional mutagenesis, manganese, mutants, nickel, organelles, prediction, transporters, zinc
The ZIP family of metal transporters is involved in the transport of Zn²⁺ and other metal cations from the extracellular environment and/or organelles into the cytoplasm of prokaryotes, eukaryotes and archaeotes. In the present study, we identified twin ZIP transporters, Zip11 (Npun_F3111) and Zip63 (Npun_F2202) encoded within the genome of the filamentous cyanobacterium, Nostoc punctiforme PCC73120. Sequence-based analyses and structural predictions confirmed that these cyanobacterial transporters belong to the SLC39 subfamily of metal transporters. Quantitative real-time (QRT)-PCR analyses suggested that the enzymes encoded by zip11 and zip63 have a broad allocrite range that includes zinc as well as cadmium, cobalt, copper, manganese and nickel. Inactivation of either zip11 or zip63 via insertional mutagenesis in N. punctiforme resulted in reduced expression of both genes, highlighting a possible co-regulation mechanism. Uptake experiments using ⁶⁵Zn demonstrated that both zip mutants had diminished zinc uptake capacity, with the deletion of zip11 resulting in the greatest overall reduction in ⁶⁵Zn uptake. Over-expression of Zip11 and Zip63 in an E. coli mutant strain (ZupT736::kan) restored divalent metal cation uptake, providing further evidence that these transporters are involved in Zn uptake in N. punctiforme. Our findings show the functional role of these twin metal uptake transporters in N. punctiforme, which are independently expressed in the presence of an array of metals. Both Zip11 and Zip63 are required for the maintenance of homeostatic levels of intracellular zinc N. punctiforme, although Zip11 appears to be the primary zinc transporter in this cyanobacterium, both ZIP’s may be part of a larger metal uptake system with shared regulatory elements.