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J Bacteriol. Feb 1993; 175(4): 966–972.
PMCID: PMC193008

Paracrystalline inclusions of a novel ferritin containing nonheme iron, produced by the human gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori: evidence for a third class of ferritins.


An abundant 19.3-kDa Helicobacter pylori protein has been cloned, and the sequence is homologous with a ferritin-like protein produced by Escherichia coli K-12. Homologies are also present with a number of eucaryotic ferritins, as well as with the heme group-containing bacterioferritins. All amino acids involved in chelation of inorganic iron by ferritins from humans and other higher species are conserved in the H. pylori protein. Consistent with the structural data indicating an iron-binding function, E. coli overexpressing the H. pylori ferritin-like protein accumulates almost 10 times more nonheme iron than vector controls, and the iron-binding activity copurifies with the 19.3-kDa protein. Immunoelectron microscopy of H. pylori, as well as of E. coli overexpressing the H. pylori gene, demonstrates that the gene product has a cytoplasmic location where it forms paracrystalline inclusions. On the basis of these structural and functional data, we propose that the H. pylori gene product (termed Pfr) forms the basis for a second class of bacterial ferritins designed to store nonheme iron.

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