Spontaneous mutation in the AgrRS two-component regulatory system of Cupriavidus metallidurans results in enhanced silver resistance†
The uncontrolled and widespread use of (nano)silver compounds has led to the increased release of these compounds into the environment, raising concerns about their negative impact on ecosystems. Concomitantly, silver resistance determinants are widely spread among environmental and clinically relevant bacteria although the underlying mechanisms are not yet fully understood. We show that Cupriavidus metallidurans is able to adapt to toxic silver concentrations. However, none of the known silver resistance determinants present in C. metallidurans are involved in the adaptative response. Instead, increased silver resistance is achieved by the concerted action of a two-component system AgrR–AgrS, previously not associated with metal resistance, and two periplasmic proteins PrsQ1 and PrsQ2. Both proteins belong to an unique group of small, uncharacterized, secreted proteins restricted to the genera Cupriavidus and Ralstonia. This system gives C. metallidurans the ability to withstand much higher silver concentrations. The latter could be facilitated by the accumulation of silver ions and the formation of silver nanoparticles.