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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Aerobactin-mediated utilization of transferrin iron.

Aerobactin and enterobactin, hydroxamate- and catechol-type siderophores, respectively, were found capable of removing iron (III) from transferrin in buffered solution. Although under these conditions aerobactin displaced the iron much more slowly than did enterobactin, the rate for the former could be accelerated by addition of pyrophosphate as mediator. Transfer of iron (III) from transferrin to aerobactin appeared to proceed via a ternary complex. Cells of Escherichia coli BN 3040 NalR iuc containing transport systems for both enterobactin and aerobactin, the genetic determinants for the latter specified on a ColV-type plasmid, took up iron from [55Fe]transferrin in minimal medium. In this case aerobactin was effective at a much lower concentration, although enterobactin still displayed superior ability to transfer the iron. In serum, however, the rate measured with aerobactin exceeded that found with enterobactin. The results indicate that aerobactin, in spite of its relatively unimpressive affinity for iron (III) as a siderophore, is nonetheless equipped with structural features or properties that enhance its ability to remove the metal ion from transferrin, especially when receptor-bearing cells of E. coli are present to act as a thermodynamic sink for the iron. These attributes of the aerobactin system of iron assimilation may account for its status as a virulence determinant in hospital isolates of E. coli.[1]


  1. Aerobactin-mediated utilization of transferrin iron. Konopka, K., Bindereif, A., Neilands, J.B. Biochemistry (1982) [Pubmed]
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