A multicopper oxidase is required for copper resistance in mycobacterium tuberculosis

Academic Article


  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis, is one of the most important bacterial pathogens. Recent work has revealed that the natural bactericidal properties of copper are utilized by the host immune system to combat infections with bacteria, including M. tuberculosis. However, M. tuberculosis employs multiple mechanisms to reduce the internal copper amount by efflux and sequestration, which are required for virulence of M. tuberculosis. Here, we describe an alternative mechanism of copper resistance by M. tuberculosis. Deletion of the rv0846c gene increased the susceptibility of M. tuberculosis to copper at least 10-fold, establishing Rv0846c as a major component of copper resistance in M. tuberculosis. In vitro assays showed that Rv0846c oxidized organic substrates and Fe(II). Importantly, mutation of the predicted copper-coordinating cysteine 486 resulted in inactive Rv0846c protein which did not protect M. tuberculosis against copper stress. Hence, Rv0846c is a multicopper oxidase of M. tuberculosis and was renamed mycobacterial multicopper oxidase (MmcO). MmcO is membrane associated, probably by lipidation after export across the inner membrane by the twin-arginine translocation system. However, mutation of the lipidation site did not affect the oxidase activity or the copper protective function of MmcO. Our study revealed MmcO as an important copper resistance mechanism of M. tuberculosis, which possibly acts by oxidation of toxic Cu(I) in the periplasm. © 2013, American Society for Microbiology.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rowland JL; Niederweis M
  • Start Page

  • 3724
  • End Page

  • 3733
  • Volume

  • 195
  • Issue

  • 16