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Cell. 2000 Sep 29;103(1):113-25.

A signal transduction system that responds to extracellular iron.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Iron is essential for all organisms but can be toxic in excess. Iron homeostasis is typically regulated by cytoplasmic iron binding proteins, but here we describe a signal transduction system (PmrA/PmrB) that responds to extracytoplasmic ferric iron. Iron promoted transcription of PmrA-activated genes and resistance to the antibiotic polymyxin in Salmonella. The PmrB protein bound iron via its periplasmic domain which harbors two copies of the sequence ExxE, a motif present in the Saccharomyces FTR1 iron transporter and in mammalian ferritin light chain. A pmrA mutant was hypersensitive to killing by iron but displayed wild-type resistance to a variety of oxidants, suggesting PmrA/PmrB controls a novel pathway mediating the avoidance of iron toxicity.

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