Materials Science

Periplasmic bacterial biomineralization of copper sulfide nanoparticles



Metal sulfides are a common group of extracellular bacterial biominerals. Only few cases of intracellular biomineralization have been reported in this group, mostly limited to greigite (Fe3S4) in magnetotactic bacteria. Here, we report the intracellular but periplasmic biomineralization of copper sulfide by the magnetotactic bacterium Desulfamplus magnetovallimortis (strain BW-1) that is known to mineralize greigite and magnetite (Fe3O4) in the cytoplasm. BW-1 produces hundreds of spherical nanoparticles, composed of 1-2 nm substructures of a poorly crystalline hexagonal copper sulfide that remains in a thermodynamically unstable state. Differential proteomics suggests that periplasmic proteins, such as a DegP-like protein and a heavy metal-binding protein, could be involved in this process. The unexpected periplasmic formation of copper sulfide nanoparticles in BW-1 reveals previously unknown possibilities for intracellular biomineralization.

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