A highly sensitive and selective optical sensing system for antimonite has been developed using genetically engineered bacteria. The basis of this system is the ability of certain bacteria to survive in environments that are contaminated with antimonite, arsenite, and arsenate. The survival is conferred to the bacteria by the ars operon, which consists of five genes that code for three structural proteins, ArsA, ArsB, and ArsC, and two regulatory proteins, ArsD and ArsR. ArsA, ArsB, and ArsC form a protein pump system that extrudes antimonite, arsenite, and arsenate once these anions reach the cytoplasm of the bacterium. A method was developed for monitoring antimonite and arsenite by using a single plasmid that incorporates the regulatory gene of the extrusion system, arsR, and the genes of bacterial luciferase, luxA and luxB. In the designed plasmid, ArsR regulates the expression of bacterial luciferase in a manner that is dependent on the concentration of antimonite and arsenite in the sample. Thus, the bioluminescence emitted by luciferase can be related to the concentration of antimonite and arsenite in the sample. Concentrations for antimonite and arsenite in the order of 10-15 M, which corresponds to subattomole levels, can be detected. This bacterial-based sensing system is highly selective for antimonite and arsenite.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry