The removal of cadmium (Cd) from wastewater before it is released from factories is important for protecting human health. Although some researchers have developed engineered bacteria, the resistance of these engineered bacteria to Cd have not been improved. In this study, two key genes involved in glutathione synthesis (gshA and gshB), a serine acetyltransferase gene (cysE), a Thlaspi caerulescens phytochelatin synthase gene (TcPCS1), and a heavy metal ATPase gene (TcHMA3) were transformed into Escherichia coli BL21. The resistance of the engineered bacterium to Cd was significantly greater than that of the initial bacterium and the Cd accumulation in the engineered bacterium was much higher than in the initial bacterium. In addition, the Cd resistance of the bacteria harboring gshB, gshA, cysE, and TcPCS1 was higher than that of the bacteria harboring gshA, cysE, and TcPCS1. This finding demonstrated that gshB played an important role in glutathione synthesis and that the reaction catalyzed by glutathione synthase was the limiting step for producing phytochelatins. Furthermore, TcPCS1 had a greater specificity and a higher capacity for removing Cd than SpPCS1, and TcHMA3 not only played a role in T. caerulescens but also functioned in E. coli.

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