Conformations and Local Dynamics of the CopY Metal Sensor Revealed by EPR Spectroscopy

Melanie Hirsch, Lukas Hofmann, Yulia Shenberger, Lada Gevorkyan-Airapetov, Sharon Ruthstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Metal transcription factors regulate metal concentrations in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. Copper is a metal ion that is being tightly regulated, owing to its dual nature. Whereas copper is an essential nutrient for bacteria, it is also toxic at high concentrations. CopY is a metal-sensitive transcription factor belonging to the copper-responsive repressor family found in Gram-positive bacteria. CopY represses transcription in the presence of Zn(II) ions and initiates transcription in the presence of Cu(I) ions. The complete crystal structure of CopY has not been reported yet, therefore most of the structural information on this protein is based on its similarity to the well-studied MecI protein. In this study, electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy was used to characterize structural and local dynamical changes in Streptococcus pneumoniae CopY as a function of Zn(II), Cu(I), and DNA binding. We detected different conformations and changes in local dynamics when CopY bound Zn(II), as opposed to Cu(I) ions. Furthermore, we explored the effects of metal ions and DNA on CopY conformation. Our results revealed the sensitivity and selectivity of CopY towards metal ions and provide new insight into the structural mechanism of the CopY transcription factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-807
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 7 Feb 2023

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