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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology