In order to construct a cell surface-engineered yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae that facilitates adsorption and recovery of heavy metal ions, we endowed it with the ability to self-aggregate in response to binding and accumulation of copper ion. A fusion gene for the expression of GTS1, which encodes a putative zinc-finger transcription factor related to occurrence of cell-aggregation, was constructed under the control of the copper ion-inducible CUP1 promoter from the yeast metallothionein gene. The multicopy plasmid carrying the fusion gene was introduced into a cell surface-engineered yeast displaying histidine hexa-peptide, which can chelate copper ion. This transformant strain aggregated in medium only in the presence of copper ion, with aggregation induced by as little as 1 mM copper ion. The copper ion-induced aggregation did not interfere with the copper ion-adsorbing function of the cell surface-engineered yeast, indicating that this transformant strain has the twin features of enhanced cell surface adsorption of copper ion and self-aggregation in response to environmental copper ion.
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