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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2003 May 16;222(1):39-43.

Involvement of enterobactin in norepinephrine-mediated iron supply from transferrin to enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK.


Exposure of bacteria to members of the stress-associated family of catecholamine hormones, principally norepinephrine, has been demonstrated to increase both growth and production of virulence-related factors. Mutation of genes for enterobactin synthesis and uptake revealed an absolute requirement for enterobactin in norepinephrine-stimulated growth of Escherichia coli O157:H7. The autoinducer produced by norepinephrine-stimulated E. coli could not substitute for enterobactin. We also demonstrate that norepinephrine promotes iron shuttling between transferrin molecules, thereby enabling the bacterial siderophore enterobactin to more readily acquire iron for growth. These results suggest one of the possible mechanisms by which the hormonal output of stress may affect enterohaemorrhagic E. coli pathogenicity.

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