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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2022

“Manganese Homeostasis in Bacteria: Interaction of the Small Protein MntS and Manganese Exporter MntP in E. coli”

Mackenzie Seymour

Senior, Biomedical Science

With Zachary Wright


Manganese (Mn) is essential for bacterial survival because it protects the bacteria from reactive oxygen species, radiation, and acidic environments. The role of manganese and its regulation is important for bacterial pathogenicity, as many virulent strains of bacteria upregulate their ability to obtain metal ions from host species. Animal immune systems, specifically white blood cells, take up manganese and release reactive oxygen species during bacterial infections, taking away the bacteria’s ability to protect itself. To better understand the mechanism and importance behind manganese level regulation, our research has focused on protein interactions responsible for Mn homeostasis in Escherichia coli (E. coli). Specifically, this research has focused on the interaction of the small cytoplasmic protein, MntS, and transmembrane exporter protein, MntP. MntP exports Mn when concentrations are high in order to prevent toxicity, while MntS appears to function as an inhibitor of MntP. This indication is due to the fact that when MntS and MntP are expressed at the same time in the presence of high Mn concentrations, E. coli becomes sensitive to high levels of Mn; therefore, suggesting that MntS could interfere with the ability of MntP to export Mn. Using two-hybrid and metal sensitivity assays, we have demonstrated an interaction with MntS and MntP. These results provide deeper insight into E. coli’s metal ion regulation, which in the long-run could contribute to future research of small proteins and the development of better antibacterial treatments by targeting metal ion regulators.

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