The merC gene from Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans functions as a mercury uptake pump. MerC protein localizes in the cytoplasmic membrane of plant cells. When Arabidopsis thaliana and tobacco plants were transformed with the merC gene under the control of the Cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter, the resulting overexpression of merC rendered the host plants hypersensitive to Hg 2+ and they accumulated approximately twice as much Hg2+ ion as the wild type plants. Thus, bacterial mercuric ion transporters such as MerC may be useful molecular tools for producing transgenic plants that hyperaccumulate Hg2+ ion.
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