Zinc stress induces copper depletion in Acinetobacter baumannii

Karl A. Hassan, Victoria G. Pederick, Liam D H Elbourne, Ian T. Paulsen, James C. Paton, Christopher A. McDevitt*, Bart A. Eijkelkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)
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    Background: The first row transition metal ions zinc and copper are essential to the survival of many organisms, although in excess these ions are associated with significant toxicity. Here, we examined the impact of zinc and copper stress on Acinetobacter baumannii, a common opportunistic pathogen.
    Results: We show that extracellular zinc stress induces a copper-specific depletion phenotype in A. baumannii ATCC 17978. Supplementation with copper not only fails to rescue this phenotype, but further exacerbates the copper depletion. Extensive analysis of the A. baumannii ATCC 17978 genome identified 13 putative zinc/copper resistance efflux pumps. Transcriptional analyses show that four of these transporters are responsive to zinc stress, five to copper stress and seven to the combination of zinc and copper stress, thereby revealing a likely foundation for the zinc-induced copper starvation in A. baumannii. In addition, we show that zinc and copper play crucial roles in management of oxidative stress and the membrane composition of A. baumannii. Further, we reveal that zinc and copper play distinct roles in macrophage-mediated killing of this pathogen.
    Conclusions: Collectively, this study supports the targeting of metal ion homeostatic mechanisms as an effective antimicrobial strategy against multi-drug resistant bacterial pathogens.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number59
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    JournalBMC Microbiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Acinetobacter
    • zinc
    • copper
    • transporter
    • oxidative stress
    • fatty acids
    • macrophages
    • membrane


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