Response of gram-positive bacteria to copper stress

J Biol Inorg Chem. 2010 Jan;15(1):3-14. doi: 10.1007/s00775-009-0588-3. Epub 2009 Sep 23.


The Gram-positive bacteria Enterococcus hirae, Lactococcus lactis, and Bacillus subtilis have received wide attention in the study of copper homeostasis. Consequently, copper extrusion by ATPases, gene regulation by copper, and intracellular copper chaperoning are understood in some detail. This has provided profound insight into basic principles of how organisms handle copper. It also emerged that many bacterial species may not require copper for life, making copper homeostatic systems pure defense mechanisms. Structural work on copper homeostatic proteins has given insight into copper coordination and bonding and has started to give molecular insight into copper handling in biological systems. Finally, recent biochemical work has shed new light on the mechanism of copper toxicity, which may not primarily be mediated by reactive oxygen radicals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Copper / metabolism
  • Copper / toxicity*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / enzymology
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / physiology
  • Homeostasis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Copper
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases