Functional Characterisation of Salmonella Typhimurium CueP

  • Katie Muddiman

Student thesis: Phd


Metals are used as cofactors for enzymes, but are toxic in excess. In order to avoid the deleterious effects posed by metals, the cell must employ strict metal homeostasis systems. One such system is the Cue copper-resistance system in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) which includes the periplasmic copper binding protein CueP. Previous studies have shown CueP to be a major periplasmic copper-sequestering protein that has a role in supplying copper to, and thus activating, the periplasmic Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase enzyme SodCII (Osman et al., 2013). SodCII protects the cell from reactive oxygen species (ROS), due for example to the actions of the respiratory burst oxidase in host macrophages. However, despite its ability to sequester copper and activate SodCII, the precise physiological role of CueP in S. Typhimurium has remained unresolved since cueP mutants of S. Typhimurium strain SL1344 (the wild-type stain used in this study) do not exhibit a phenotype with respect to tolerance to copper or reactive oxygen species. In addition, the copper-binding mechanism of CueP and its interactions with other copper-binding proteins, including SodCII, have not been examined. An aim of this study was to establish a phenotype for a cueP mutant of S. Typhimurium with respect to copper and/or ROS tolerance. It was hypothesised that the possession of KatG (catalase) and multiple superoxide dismutases (SodCI, SodA and SodB), in addition to SodCII, by S. Typhimurium may confer functional redundancy with respect to copper and ROS tolerance. Hence mutants lacking katG (ΔkatG) or the various superoxide dismutase encoding genes (ΔsodA/ΔsodB/ΔsodCI/ΔsodCII) with and without functional cueP were generated. The ΔkatG mutants exhibited reduced catalase activity and reduced tolerance to hydrogen peroxide, consistent with the loss of KatG, however the additional loss of cueP did not reduce tolerance to hydrogen peroxide further. Similarly, tolerance to copper and extracellular superoxide was also unaltered in the ΔkatG/ΔcueP mutant. The tolerance of the various superoxide dismutase mutants to copper and various ROS was also unaffected by the presence or absence of CueP. To examine the role of CueP in SodCII activation in vivo, SodCII was over-expressed in S. Typhimurium (in a ΔsodA/ΔsodB/ΔsodCI/ΔsodCII background) with and without functional cueP and superoxide dismutase activity measured in both whole cells and periplasmic extracts. SodCII-dependent superoxide dismutase activity was successfully identified within the periplasmic extracts. However, surprisingly, the level of activity was unaffected by the presence 16 or absence of CueP and/or the addition of copper. It is possible that SodCII is thus able to scavenge sufficient copper for activity from the reagents used in these assays. Similarly, in an alternative approach to examine the role of CueP in vitro, both SodCII and CueP (WT and potential metal-binding residue mutant forms) were successfully over-expressed in E. coli and methods for their purification optimised (without the use of affinity tags). ICP-MS analysis indicated that a CuePC104S mutant contains > 18-fold less copper than the CueP WT protein. Furthermore, superoxide dismutase activity assays using purified proteins, indicated that the CuePC104S mutant was less able to activate SodCII than the WT CueP. Taken together, these results are consistent with a role for the Cys104 residue in copper-binding by CueP. Bioinformatics results suggest the presence of CueP or homologous genes in the presence of other bacteria, including pathogens such as Klebsiella, Yersinia and Shigella spp. Further understanding of the role of CueP and the systems used by S. Typhimurium to avoid both copper and ROS stress may inform the development of novel treatment strategies for bacterial diseases.
Date of Award31 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJennifer Cavet (Supervisor) & Andrew Munro (Supervisor)


  • CueP
  • Salmonella Typhimurium
  • Copper homeostasis
  • Periplasm

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