Plasmid-encoded iron uptake systems

Manuela Di Lorenzo (Corresponding author), M. Stork

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Plasmids confer genetic information that benefits the bacterial cells containing them. In pathogenic bacteria, plasmids often harbor virulence determinants that enhance the pathogenicity of the bacterium. The ability to acquire iron in environments where it is limited, for instance the eukaryotic host, is a critical factor for bacterial growth. To acquire iron, bacteria have evolved specific iron uptake mechanisms. These systems are often chromosomally encoded, while those that are plasmid-encoded are rare. Two main plasmid types, ColV and pJM1, have been shown to harbor determinants that increase virulence by providing the cell with essential iron for growth. It is clear that these two plasmid groups evolved independently from each other since they do not share similarities either in the plasmid backbones or in the iron uptake systems they harbor. The siderophores aerobactin and salmochelin that are found on ColV plasmids fall in the hydroxamate and catechol group, respectively, whereas both functional groups are present in the anguibactin siderophore, the only iron uptake system found on pJM1-type plasmids. Besides siderophore-mediated iron uptake, ColV plasmids carry additional genes involved in iron metabolism. These systems include ABC transporters, hemolysins, and a hemoglobin protease. ColV- and pJM1-like plasmids have been shown to confer virulence to their bacterial host, and this trait can be completely ascribed to their encoded iron uptake systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberPLAS-0030-2014
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number2
Early online date05 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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