Bacterial [Cu,Zn]-superoxide dismutase: phylogenetically distinct from the eukaryotic enzyme, and not so rare after all!

Microbiology (Reading). 1995 Sep;141 ( Pt 9):2271-9. doi: 10.1099/13500872-141-9-2271.


Copper- and zinc-containing superoxide dismutases ([Cu,Zn]-SODs) are generally considered almost exclusively eukaryotic enzymes, protecting the cytosol and extracellular compartments of higher organisms from damage by oxygen free-radicals. The recent description of a few examples of bacterial forms of the enzyme, located in the periplasm of different Gram-negative micro-organisms, prompted a re-evaluation of this general perception. A PCR-based approach has been developed and used successfully to identify bacterial genes encoding [Cu,Zn]-SOD in a wide range of important human and animal pathogens-members of the Haemophilus, Actinobacillus and Pasteurella (HAP) group, and Neisseria meningitidis. Comparison of [Cu,Zn]-SOD peptide sequences found in Haemophilus ducreyi, Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Pasteurella multocida, and N. meningitidis with previously described bacterial proteins and examples of eukaryotic [Cu,Zn]-SOD has shown that the bacterial proteins constitute a distinct family apparently widely separated in evolutionary terms from the eukaryotic examples. The widespread occurrence of [Cu,Zn]-SOD in the periplasm of bacterial pathogens, appropriately located to dismute exogenously derived superoxide radical anions, suggests that this enzyme may play a role in the interactive biology of organisms with their hosts and so contribute to their capacity to cause disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actinobacillus / enzymology
  • Actinobacillus / genetics
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacteria / enzymology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • Copper
  • Eukaryotic Cells / enzymology*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Haemophilus / enzymology
  • Haemophilus / genetics
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pasteurella / enzymology
  • Pasteurella / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology
  • Species Specificity
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics*
  • Zinc


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Copper
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Zinc

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X83122
  • GENBANK/X83123
  • GENBANK/X83124
  • GENBANK/X83125
  • GENBANK/X83126