Mercury resistance and accumulation in Escherichia coli with cell surface expression of fish metallothionein

Kuo Hsing Lin, Mei Fang Chien, Ju Liang Hsieh, Chieh Chen Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Recombinant tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) fish metallothionein (MT) was used as a surface biosorbent for mercury removal in Escherichia coli. Fish MT conferred better resistance than did mouse or human MT. When tilapia MT (tMT) was fused with an outer-membrane protein, outer membrane protein C (OmpC), the membrane-targeted fusion protein, OmpC-tMT, gave enhanced resistance compared with cytoplasmic tMT expressed in the same host cell. The cytoplasmically expressed tMT showed high mercury adsorption (4.3± 0.4 mg/g cell dry weight). The cell surface that expressed E. coli showed about 25% higher adsorption ability (5.6± 0.4 mg/g) than the cells expressing cytoplasmic MT, attaining almost twice the level of adsorption of the control plasmid (3.0±0.4 mg/g). As MTs are also known for their ability to scavenge hydroxyl-free radicals, it was also shown that tMT exhibited better radical-scavenging activities than glutathione. These results suggest that fish MT has potential for the development of a bioremediation system for mercury removal that protects the harboring E. coli host by free-radical scavenging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-569
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioadsorption
  • Mercury
  • Metallothionein
  • OmpC
  • Tilapia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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