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J Bacteriol. 1997 Mar; 179(5): 1442–1451.
PMCID: PMC178851

Fumarase C activity is elevated in response to iron deprivation and in mucoid, alginate-producing Pseudomonas aeruginosa: cloning and characterization of fumC and purification of native fumC.


We report the discovery of fumC, encoding a fumarase, upstream of the sodA gene, encoding manganese superoxide dismutase, in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The fumC open reading frame, which terminates 485 bp upstream of sodA, contains 1,374 bp that encode 458 amino acids. A second 444-bp open reading frame located between fumC and sodA, called orfX, showed no homology with any genes or proteins in database searches. A fumarase activity stain revealed that P. aeruginosa possesses at least two and possibly three fumarases. Total fumarase activity was at least approximately 1.6-fold greater in mucoid, alginate-producing bacteria than in nonmucoid bacteria and decreased 84 to 95% during the first 5 h of aerobic growth, followed by a rapid rise to maximum activity in stationary phase. Bacteria exposed to the iron chelator 2,2'-dipyridyl, but not ferric chloride, demonstrated an increase in fumarase activity. Mucoid bacteria produced approximately twofold-higher levels of the siderophores pyoverdin and pyochelin than nonmucoid bacteria. Northern blot analysis revealed a transcript that included fumC, orfX, and sodA, the amount of which was increased in response to iron deprivation. A P. aeruginosa fumC mutant produced only approximately 40% the alginate of wild-type bacteria. Interestingly, a sodA mutant possessed an alginate-stable phenotype, a trait that is typically unstable in vitro. These data suggest that mucoid bacteria either are in an iron-starved state relative to nonmucoid bacteria or simply require more iron for the process of alginate biosynthesis. In addition, the iron-regulated, tricarboxylic acid cycle enzyme fumarase C is essential for optimal alginate production by P. aeruginosa.

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