Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 21665978
J. Bacteriol. 2011 Aug;193(15):3785-93
Nickel and cobalt are both essential trace elements that are toxic when present in excess. The main resistance mechanism that bacteria use to overcome this toxicity is the efflux of these cations out of the cytoplasm. RND (resistance-nodulation-cell division)- and MFS (major facilitator superfamily)-type efflux systems are known to export either nickel or cobalt. The RcnA efflux pump, which belongs to a unique family, is responsible for the detoxification of Ni and Co in Escherichia coli. In this work, the role of the gene yohN, which is located downstream of rcnA, is investigated. yohN is cotranscribed with rcnA, and its expression is induced by Ni and Co. Surprisingly, in contrast to the effect of deleting rcnA, deletion of yohN conferred enhanced resistance to Ni and Co in E. coli, accompanied by decreased metal accumulation. We show that YohN is localized to the periplasm and does not bind Ni or Co ions directly. Physiological and genetic experiments demonstrate that YohN is not involved in Ni import. YohN is conserved among proteobacteria and belongs to a new family of proteins; consequently, yohN has been renamed rcnB. We show that the enhanced resistance of rcnB mutants to Ni and Co and their decreased Ni and Co intracellular accumulation are linked to the greater efflux of these ions in the absence of rcnB. Taken together, these results suggest that RcnB is required to maintain metal ion homeostasis, in conjunction with the efflux pump RcnA, presumably by modulating RcnA-mediated export of Ni and Co to avoid excess efflux of Ni and Co ions via an unknown novel mechanism.