Metals are bacterial nutrients. Upon infection by microorganisms, the animal host innate immune system typically reduces the availability of metals. In response, bacterial pathogens can activate pathways for metal uptaketo avoid metal starvation. This competition for metals at the host-pathogen interface is termed “nutritional immunity”.

We are interested in how the obligate human pathogen acquires nutrient copper (Cu). This Gram-negative bacterium expresses several respiratory cuproenzymes that are required for growth and metabolism in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. These cuproenzymes include the putative nitrous oxide reductase (NosZ). NosZ contains 12 Cu atoms per functional dimer and it catalyses the reduction of nitrous oxide (NO) to dinitrogen (N). This reduction is an intermediate step in the denitrification pathway, in which nitrite (NO) is used as the terminal electron acceptor for respiration instead of O2. In this project, we will determine whether NosZ is expressed as a functional enzyme in . We will then examine how this enzyme acquires nutrient Cu and subsequently assembles its active site.

Given the rise in antibiotic resistance and the worldwide recognition of multidrug-resistant as a major threat to public health, we hope that a fundamental understanding of the physiology and metabolism of this organism will yield new strategies for anti-infectives, for instance by manipulating Cu availability at the site of infection.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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