Role of the charge interaction between Arg(70) and Asp(120) in the Tn10-encoded metal-tetracycline/H(+) antiporter of Escherichia coli. (1/76)

We reported that the positive charge of Arg(70) is mandatory for tetracycline transport activity of Tn10-encoded metal-tetracycline/H(+) antiporter (TetA(B)) (Someya, Y., and Yamaguchi, A. (1996) Biochemistry 35, 9385-9391). Arg(70) may function through a charge-pairing with a negatively charged residue in close proximity. Therefore, we mutated Asp(66) and Asp(120), which are only two negatively charged residues located close to Arg(70) in putative secondary structure of TetA(B) and highly conserved throughout transporters of the major facilitator superfamily. Site-directed mutagenesis studies revealed that Asp(66) is essential, but Asp(120) is important for TetA(B) function. Surprisingly, when Asp(120) was replaced by a neutral residue, the R70A mutant recovered tetracycline resistance and transport activity. There was no such effect in the Asp(66) mutation. The charge-exchanged mutant, R70D/D120R, also showed significant drug resistance and transport activity (about 50% of the wild type), although the R70D mutant had absolutely no activity, and the D120R mutant retained very low activity (about 10% of the wild type). Both the R70C and D120C mutants were inactivated by N-ethylmaleimide. Mercuric ion (Hg(2+)), which gives a positive charge to a SH group of a Cys residue through mercaptide formation, had an opposite effect on the R70C and D120C mutants. The activity of the R70C mutant was stimulated by Hg(2+); however, on the contrary, the D120C mutant was partially inhibited. On the other hand, the R70C/D120C double mutant was almost completely inactivated by Hg(2+), probably because the side chains at positions 70 and 120 are bridged with Hg(2+). The close proximity of positions 70 and 120 were confirmed by disulfide cross-linking formation of the R70C/D120C double mutant when it was oxidized by copper-(1,10-phenanthroline). These results indicate that the positive charge of Arg(70) requires the negative charge of Asp(120) for neutralization, probably for properly positioning transmembrane segments in the membrane.  (+info)

Benchmark concentrations for methylmercury obtained from the Seychelles Child Development Study. (2/76)

Methylmercury is a neurotoxin at high exposures, and the developing fetus is particularly susceptible. Because exposure to methylmercury is primarily through fish, concern has been expressed that the consumption of fish by pregnant women could adversely affect their fetuses. The reference dose for methylmercury established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was based on a benchmark analysis of data from a poisoning episode in Iraq in which mothers consumed seed grain treated with methylmercury during pregnancy. However, exposures in this study were short term and at much higher levels than those that result from fish consumption. In contrast, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) based its proposed minimal risk level on a no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) derived from neurologic testing of children in the Seychelles Islands, where fish is an important dietary staple. Because no adverse effects from mercury were seen in the Seychelles study, the ATSDR considered the mean exposure in the study to be a NOAEL. However, a mean exposure may not be a good indicator of a no-effect exposure level. To provide an alternative basis for deriving an appropriate human exposure level from the Seychelles study, we conducted a benchmark analysis on these data. Our analysis included responses from batteries of neurologic tests applied to children at 6, 19, 29, and 66 months of age. We also analyzed developmental milestones (age first walked and first talked). We explored a number of dose-response models, sets of covariates to include in the models, and definitions of background response. Our analysis also involved modeling responses expressed as both continuous and quantal data. The most reliable analyses were considered to be represented by 144 calculated lower statistical bounds on the benchmark dose (BMDLs; the lower statistical bound on maternal mercury hair level corresponding to an increase of 0.1 in the probability of an adverse response) derived from the modeling of continuous responses. The average value of the BMDL in these 144 analyses was 25 ppm mercury in maternal hair, with a range of 19 to 30 ppm.  (+info)

Mercury poisoning associated with a Mexican beauty cream. (3/76)

OBJECTIVES: To describe demographic characteristics, patterns of use, and symptoms associated with mercury poisoning among persons who used a Mexican beauty cream containing mercurous chloride and to estimate the prevalence of cream use in Texas near the Mexico border. DESIGN: Case series and cross-sectional survey. SETTING: Border communities of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. PARTICIPANTS: Persons who used the cream and contacted a health department in response to announcements about the cream and households that participated in the Survey of Health and Environmental Conditions in Texas Border Counties and Colonias, 1997. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Urine mercury concentrations, self-reported symptoms, and prevalence of cream use among households. RESULTS: Of 330 cream users who contacted their health department, 96% were women, and 95% were Hispanic. The mean urine mercury concentration was 146.7 microg/L (reference range : 0-20 microg/L). In 5% of 2,194 randomly selected Texas households near the Mexico border, at least 1 person had used "Crema de Belleza-Manning" (Laboratorios Vida Natural, S.A., Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico) in the previous year. CONCLUSIONS: Most cream users had increased urine mercury concentrations. Cream use was common in Texas near the Mexico border. Physicians should consider toxicity in patients with neurologic symptoms of unclear cause and use public health departments when investigating unusual illnesses.  (+info)

Organization-dependent effects of toxic bivalent ions microtubule assembly and glycolysis. (4/76)

The effects of bivalent ions on tubulin dynamics and the upper phase of glycolysis were investigated at different organization levels in vitro. Cu2+, Cd2+, Hg2+ and CrO4(2-) inhibit the tubulin polymerization at an IC50 of 14-24 microM with high cooperativity and also induce microtubule disassembly. The apparent binding constants of the ions to tubulin, estimated by fluorescence quenching, vary between 6 and 28 microM. BIAcore measurements for tubulin-tubulin interaction suggest that the presence of Cu2+ affects neither koff nor kon, but the amount of the bound tubulin. While the inhibitory effect of Cu2+ on tubulin polymerization is partially abolished by cross-linking of microtubules with substoichiometric amounts of phosphofructokinase or decoration of tubules with cytosolic proteins, in the presence of kinase but not with cytosolic proteins the tubules are resistant to CrO4(2-). No inhibitory effect of Cu2+ or CrO4(2-) on microtubule assembly was detected in the MAP-containing cytosolic fraction. Electron microscopy revealed that tubules assembled in the presence of Cu2+ or CrO4(2-) ions contain aggregates of thread-like oligomers that are less conspicuous in the presence of cytosolic proteins. Cu2+, Cd2+, and Hg2+ inhibit the glycolytic flux in the cytosolic fraction characterized at equilibrium by an IC50 of 10-14 microM with high cooperativity. Tubulin diminishes the inhibitory effect of the cations. These data indicate that the responses elicited by the bivalent ions are highly dependent on the supramolecular organization of the systems.  (+info)

Expression and immunolocalization of aquaporin water channels in rat exocrine pancreas. (5/76)

Both the acinar and ductal cells of the pancreas secrete a near-isotonic fluid and may thus be sites of aquaporin (AQP) water channel expression. Northern blot analysis of mRNA from whole rat pancreas revealed high levels of AQP1 and AQP8 expression, whereas lower levels of AQP4 and AQP5 expression were just detectable by RT-PCR Southern blot analysis. Immunohistochemistry showed that AQP1 is localized in the microvasculature, whereas AQP8 is confined to the apical pole of the acinar cells. No labeling of acinar, ductal, or vascular tissue was detected with antibodies to AQP2-7. With immunoelectron microscopy, AQP8 labeling was observed not only at the apical membrane of the acinar cells but also among small intracellular vesicles in the subapical cytoplasm, suggesting that there may be regulated trafficking of AQP8 to the apical plasma membrane. To evaluate the contribution of AQPs to the membrane water permeability, video microscopy was used to measure the swelling of acinar cells in response to hypotonic stress. Osmotic water permeability was reduced by 90% following exposure to Hg(2+). Since AQP8 is confined to the apical membrane, the marked effect of Hg(2+) suggests that other water channels may be expressed in the basolateral membrane.  (+info)

Unusually wide co-factor tolerance in a metalloenzyme; divalent metal ions modulate endo-exonuclease activity in T5 exonuclease. (6/76)

T5 5'-3' exonuclease is a member of a homologous group of 5' nucleases which require divalent metal co-factors. Structural and biochemical studies suggest that single-stranded DNA substrates thread through a helical arch or hole in the protein, thus bringing the phosphodiester backbone into close proximity with the active site metal co-factors. In addition to the expected use of Mg(2+), Mn(2+) and Co(2+) as co-factors, we found that divalent zinc, iron, nickel and copper ions also supported catalysis. Such a range of co-factor utilisation is unusual in a single enzyme. Some co-factors such as Mn(2+) stimulated the cleavage of double-stranded closed-circular plasmid DNA. Such endonucleolytic cleavage of circular double-stranded DNA cannot be readily explained by the threading model proposed for the cleavage of substrates with free 5'-ends as the hole observed in the crystal structure of T5 exonuclease is too small to permit the passage of double-stranded DNA. We suggest that such a substrate may gain access to the active site of the enzyme by a process which does not involve threading.  (+info)

Mercurial sensitivity of aquaporin 1 endofacial loop B residues. (7/76)

The water channel protein aquaporin-1 (AQP1) has two asparagine-proline-alanine (NPA) repeats on loops B and E. From recent structural information, these loops are on opposite sides of the membrane and meet to form a pore. We replaced the mercury-sensitive residue cysteine 189 in AQP1 by serine to obtain a mercury-insensitive template (C189S). Subsequently, we substituted three consecutive cysteines for residues 71-73 near the first NPA repeat (76-78) in intracellular loop B, and investigated whether they were accessible to extracellular mercurials. AQP1 and its mutants were expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes, and the osmotic permeability (P(f)) of the oocytes was determined. C189S had wild-type P(f) but was not sensitive to HgCl(2). Expression of all three C189S cysteine mutants resulted in increased P(f), and all three mutants regained mercurial sensitivity. These results, especially the inhibitions by the large mercurial p-chloromercunbenzene-sulfonic acid (pCMBS) ( approximately 6A wide), suggest that residues 71-73 at the pore are accessible to extracellular mercurials. A 30-ps molecular dynamics simulation (at 300 K) starting with crystallographic coordinates of AQP1 showed that the width of the pore bottleneck (between Connolly surfaces) can vary (w(avg) = 3.9 A, sigma = 0.75; hydrated AQP1). Thus, although the pore width would be > or = 6 A only for 0.0026 of the time, this might suffice for pCMBS to reach residues 71-73. Alternative explanations such as passage of pCMBS across the AQP1 tetramer center or other unspecified transmembrane pathways cannot be excluded.  (+info)

Assessing elemental mercury vapor exposure from cultural and religious practices. (8/76)

Use of elemental mercury in certain cultural and religious practices can cause high exposures to mercury vapor. Uses include sprinkling mercury on the floor of a home or car, burning it in a candle, and mixing it with perfume. Some uses can produce indoor air mercury concentrations one or two orders of magnitude above occupational exposure limits. Exposures resulting from other uses, such as infrequent use of a small bead of mercury, could be well below currently recognized risk levels. Metallic mercury is available at almost all of the 15 botanicas visited in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, but botanica personnel often deny having mercury for sale when approached by outsiders to these religious and cultural traditions. Actions by public health authorities have driven the mercury trade underground in some locations. Interviews indicate that mercury users are aware that mercury is hazardous, but are not aware of the inhalation exposure risk. We argue against a crackdown by health authorities because it could drive the practices further underground, because high-risk practices may be rare, and because uninformed government intervention could have unfortunate political and civic side effects for some Caribbean and Latin American immigrant groups. We recommend an outreach and education program involving religious and community leaders, botanica personnel, and other mercury users.  (+info)