The effect of selenite on the growth rate and protein synthesis has been investigated in Rhodobacter sphaeroides. This photosynthetic bacterium efficiently reduces selenite with intracellular accumulation under both dark aerobic and anaerobic photosynthetic conditions. Addition of 1 mM selenite under these two growth conditions does not affect the final cell density, although a marked slowdown in growth rate is observed under aerobic growth. The proteome analysis of selenite response by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis shows an enhanced synthesis of some chaperones, an elongation factor, and enzymes associated to oxidative stress. The induction of these antioxidant proteins confirms that the major toxic effect of selenite is the formation of reactive oxygen species during its metabolism. In addition, we show that one mutant unable to precipitate selenite, selected from a transposon library, is affected in the smoK gene. This encodes a constituent of a putative ABC transporter implicated in the uptake of polyols. This mutant is less sensitive to selenite and does not express stress proteins identified in the wild type in response to selenite. This suggests that the entry of selenite into the cytoplasm is mediated by a polyol transporter in R. sphaeroides
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