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Vet Microbiol. 2002 Jan 3;84(1-2):53-67.

A putative iron-regulated TonB-dependent receptor of Mannheimia (Pasteurella) haemolytica A1: possible mechanism for phase variation.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ont., Canada N1G 2W1.


A recombinant plasmid that codes for a novel iron receptor protein (Irp) of Mannheimia (Pasteurella) haemolytica A1 was isolated by the partial complementation of an Escherichia coli fur mutant. The deduced amino acid sequence of Irp exhibited characteristics typical of TonB-dependent receptors. These include: a TonB-box at the N-terminal; a 50 amino acid region homologous to the "plug" domain of the E. coli FhuA and FepA receptors; and a C-terminal TonB-dependent signature which likely functions as an outer membrane anchoring domain. Previously uncharacterized Irp homologues were detected by BLAST analysis of available databases and incomplete microbial genomes. When the irp homologues from Neisseria gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis were cloned by PCR and expressed in E. coli, novel proteins of the predicted size (84kDa) were detected in cell lysates, demonstrating that these are functional genes. The M. haemolytica A1 irp gene undergoes phase variation at a nucleotide region which contain the sequence AAAAAAATTAAAA (7A-2T-4A) flanked by a short inverted repeat. Site-specific mutagenesis of the 7A-2T-4A sequence as well as replacement of the inverted repeats resulted in a stable construct that expressed the Irp protein without phase variation. The expression of irp in M. haemolytica A1 was regulated by iron concentrations and most likely a Fur homologue, consistent with the proposed function of Irp in iron metabolism. The irp genes may represent contingency loci that play a role in iron acquisition during infection.

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