Chromobacterium violaceum is a gram-negative betaproteobacterium that has been isolated from various Brazilian ecosystems. Its genome contains the cyn operon, which gives it the ability to metabolize highly toxic cyanate into ammonium and carbon dioxide. We used a proteomics approach to investigate the effects of cyanate on the metabolism of this bacterium. The proteome of cells grown with and without cyanate was compared on 2-D gels. Differential spots were digested and identified by mass spectrometry. The bacterium was able to grow at concentrations of up to 1 mM cyanate. Eighteen spots were differentially expressed in the presence of cyanate, of which 16 were downregulated and only two were upregulated. An additional 12 spots were detected only in extracts of cells unexposed to cyanate, and one was expressed only by the exposed cells. Fourteen spots were identified, corresponding to 13 different proteins. We conclude that cyanate promotes expression of enzymes that combat oxidative stress and represses enzymes of the citric acid cycle, strongly affecting the energetic metabolism of the cell. Other proteins that were under-expressed in bacteria exposed to cyanate are involved in amino-acid metabolism or are hypothetical proteins, demonstrating that cyanate also affects expression of genes that are not part of the cyn operon.
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