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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2002 Apr 15;400(2):273-81.

Reduction of iron by extracellular iron reductases: implications for microbial iron acquisition.

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  • Department of Medical Specialties, Section of Infectious Diseases, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA. rcowart@dbq.edu


The extracellular enzymatic reduction of iron by microorganisms has not been appropriately considered. In this study the reduction and release of iron from ferrioxamine were examined using extracellular microbial iron reductases and compared to iron mobilization by chemical reductants, and to chelation by EDTA and desferrioxamine. A flavin semiquinone was formed during the enzymatic reduction of ferrioxamine, which was consistent with the 1 e(-) reduction of iron by an enzyme. The rates for the enzymatic reactions were substantially faster than both the 2 e(-) chemical reductions and the chelation reactions. The rapid rates of the enzymatic reduction reactions demonstrated that these enzymes are capable of accomplishing the extracellular mobilization of iron required by microorganisms. The data suggest that mechanistically there are two phases for the mobilization and transport of iron by those microorganisms that produce both extracellular iron reductases and siderophores, with reduction being the principle pathway.

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