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A tight tunable range for Ni(II) sensing and buffering in cells

Foster, A.W.; Pernil, R.; Patterson, C.J.; Scott, A.J.P.; Pålsson, L.-O.; Pal, R.; Cummins, I.; Chivers, P.T.; Pohl, E.; Robinson, N.J.

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A.W. Foster

R. Pernil

C.J. Patterson

A.J.P. Scott

I. Cummins


The metal affinities of metal-sensing transcriptional regulators co-vary with cellular metal concentrations over more than 12 orders of magnitude. To understand the cause of this relationship, we determined the structure of the Ni(II) sensor InrS and then created cyanobacteria (Synechocystis PCC 6803) in which transcription of genes encoding a Ni(II) exporter and a Ni(II) importer were controlled by InrS variants with weaker Ni(II) affinities. Variant strains were sensitive to elevated nickel and contained more nickel, but the increase was small compared with the change in Ni(II) affinity. All of the variant sensors retained the allosteric mechanism that inhibits DNA binding following metal binding, but a response to nickel in vivo was observed only when the sensitivity was set to respond in a relatively narrow (less than two orders of magnitude) range of nickel concentrations. Thus, the Ni(II) affinity of InrS is attuned to cellular metal concentrations rather than the converse.


Foster, A., Pernil, R., Patterson, C., Scott, A., Pålsson, L., Pal, R., …Robinson, N. (2017). A tight tunable range for Ni(II) sensing and buffering in cells. Nature Chemical Biology, 13(4), 409-414.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 1, 2016
Online Publication Date Feb 6, 2017
Publication Date Apr 1, 2017
Deposit Date Dec 2, 2016
Publicly Available Date Aug 6, 2017
Journal Nature Chemical Biology
Print ISSN 1552-4450
Electronic ISSN 1552-4469
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 4
Pages 409-414


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