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Title: Final Report - Molecular Mechanisms of Bacterial Mercury Transformation - UCSF

The bacterial mercury resistance (mer) operon functions in Hg biogeochemistry and bioremediation by converting reactive inorganic Hg(II) and organic [RHg(II)]1+ mercurials to relatively inert monoatomic mercury vapor, Hg(0). Its genes regulate operon expression (MerR, MerD, MerOP), import Hg(II) (MerT, MerP, and MerC), and demethylate (MerB) and reduce (MerA) mercurials. We focus on how these components interact with each other and with the host cell to allow cells to survive and detoxify Hg compounds. Understanding how this ubiquitous detoxification system fits into the biology and ecology of its bacterial host is essential to guide interventions that support and enhance Hg remediation. In the current overall project we focused on two aspects of this system: (1) investigations of the energetics of Hg(II)-ligand binding interactions, and (2) both experimental and computational approaches to investigating the molecular mechanisms of Hg(II) acquisition by MerA and intramolecular transfer of Hg(II) prior to reduction within the MerA enzyme active site. Computational work was led by Prof. Jeremy Smith and took place at the University of Tennessee, while experimental work on MerA was led by Prof. Susan Miller and took place at the University of California San Francisco.
  1. UCSF
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Regents of the University of California San Francisco
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Contributing Orgs:
Country of Publication:
United States
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; 59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES Hg-ligand complexes, Hg biochemistry, biophysics, enzyme mechanisms