Bacterial transport of sulfate, molybdate, and related oxyanions

Biometals. 2011 Aug;24(4):687-707. doi: 10.1007/s10534-011-9421-x. Epub 2011 Feb 8.


Sulfur is an essential element for microorganisms and it can be obtained from varied compounds, sulfate being the preferred source. The first step for sulfate assimilation, sulfate uptake, has been studied in several bacterial species. This article reviews the properties of different bacterial (and archaeal) transporters for sulfate, molybdate, and related oxyanions. Sulfate uptake is carried out by sulfate permeases that belong to the SulT (CysPTWA), SulP, CysP/(PiT), and CysZ families. The oxyanions molybdate, tungstate, selenate and chromate are structurally related to sulfate. Molybdate is transported mainly by the high-affinity ModABC system and tungstate by the TupABC and WtpABC systems. CysPTWA, ModABC, TupABC, and WtpABC are homologous ATP-binding cassette (ABC)-type transporters with similar organization and properties. Uptake of selenate and chromate oxyanions occurs mainly through sulfate permeases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anion Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Anions / metabolism
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Chromates / metabolism
  • Molybdenum / metabolism*
  • Selenic Acid
  • Selenium Compounds / metabolism
  • Sulfates / metabolism*
  • Tungsten Compounds / metabolism


  • Anion Transport Proteins
  • Anions
  • Chromates
  • Selenium Compounds
  • Sulfates
  • Tungsten Compounds
  • molybdate
  • Molybdenum
  • Selenic Acid
  • tungstate