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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Mercury operon regulation by the merR gene of the organomercurial resistance system of plasmid pDU1358.

The structural basis for induction of the mercury resistance operon with inorganic mercury and with the organomercurial compound phenylmercuric acetate was addressed by DNA sequencing analysis and by lac fusion transcription experiments regulated by merR in trans from broad-spectrum-resistance plasmid pDU1358 (Hg2+ and phenylmercury responding). The lac fusion results were compared with those from a narrow-spectrum-resistance (Hg2+ responding but not phenylmercuric responding) operon and the pDU1358 merR deleted at the 3' end. The nucleotide sequence of the beginning region of the broad-spectrum mer operon of plasmid pDU1358 was determined, including that of the merR gene, the operator-promoter region, the merT and merP genes, and the first 60% of the merA gene. Comparison of this sequence with DNA sequences of narrow-spectrum mer operons from transposon Tn501 and plasmid R100 showed that a major difference occurred in the 3' 29 base pairs of the merR gene, resulting in unrelated C-terminal 10 amino acids. A hybrid mer operon consisting of the merR gene from pDU1358, a hybrid merA gene (determining mercuric reductase enzyme), and lacking the merB gene (determining phenylmercury lyase activity) was inducible by both phenylmercury and inorganic Hg2+. This shows that organomercurial lyase is not needed for induction by organomercurial compounds. A mutant form of pDU1358 merR missing the C-terminal 17 amino acids responded to inorganic Hg2+ but not to phenylmercury. Thus, the C-terminal region of the MerR protein of the pDU1358 mer operon is involved in the recognition of phenylmercury.[1]


  1. Mercury operon regulation by the merR gene of the organomercurial resistance system of plasmid pDU1358. Nucifora, G., Chu, L., Silver, S., Misra, T.K. J. Bacteriol. (1989) [Pubmed]
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