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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Nov;42(3):835-49.

Haem utilization in Vibrio cholerae involves multiple TonB-dependent haem receptors.

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Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-1095, USA.


Vibrio cholerae has multiple iron transport systems, one of which involves haem uptake through the outer membrane receptor HutA. A hutA mutant had only a slight defect in growth using haemin as the iron source, and we show here that V. cholerae encodes two additional TonB-dependent haem receptors, HutR and HasR. HutR has significant homology to HutA as well as to other outer membrane haem receptors. Membrane fractionation confirmed that HutR is present in the outer membrane. The hutR gene was co-transcribed with the upstream gene ptrB, and expression from the ptrB promoter was negatively regulated by iron. A hutA, hutR mutant was significantly impaired, but not completely defective, in the ability to use haemin as the sole iron source. HasR is most similar to the haemophore-utilizing haem receptors from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Serratia marcescens. A mutant defective in all three haem receptors was unable to use haemin as an iron source. HutA and HutR functioned with either V. cholerae TonB1 or TonB2, but haemin transport through either receptor was more efficient in strains carrying the tonB1 system genes. In contrast, haemin uptake through HasR was TonB2 dependent. Efficient utilization of haemoglobin as an iron source required HutA and TonB1. The triple haem receptor mutant exhibited no defect in its ability to compete with its Vib- parental strain in an infant mouse model of infection, indicating that additional iron sources are present in vivo. V. cholerae used haem derived from marine invertebrate haemoglobins, suggesting that haem may be available to V. cholerae growing in the marine environment.

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