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Microbiology. 2004 Jul;150(Pt 7):2125-34.

Transcriptional regulation of the Bacteroides fragilis ferritin gene (ftnA) by redox stress.

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East Carolina Brody University School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, 600 Moye Blvd, Greenville, NC 27858-4354, USA.


This study shows that the iron-storage protein ferritin is a component of the redox-stress response in the obligate anaerobe Bacteroides fragilis. It is up-regulated at transcriptional level under aerobic conditions but constitutively expressed at low levels under anaerobic conditions. Northern hybridization and primer extension analysis revealed that ftnA is transcribed as a monocistronic mRNA of approximately 600 nt. Under reduced anaerobic conditions, ftnA mRNA levels were not dependent on the iron content of the culture medium. Following oxygen exposure ftnA message increased about 10-fold in iron-replete medium compared to a fourfold increase under low-iron conditions. Addition of the oxidant potassium ferricyanide induced expression of ftnA mRNA anaerobically, suggesting that the oxidation of the medium affected expression of ftnA. Two transcription initiation start sites were identified. Both transcripts were expressed constitutively under anaerobic conditions but one promoter was induced by oxidative stress or the addition of the oxidant potassium ferricyanide. The effect of redox stress on ftnA expression was further investigated by addition of diamide, a thiol-oxidizing agent, which induced ftnA mRNA levels anaerobically, suggesting that an unbalanced cellular redox state also affects ftnA expression. Induction by hydrogen peroxide and oxygen was decreased in an oxyR deletion mutant but some oxygen induction still occurred. This strongly suggests that ftnA is regulated by both the peroxide response transcriptional activator, OxyR, and another unidentified oxygen-dependent regulator. Taken together, these data show that ftnA mRNA levels are controlled by both iron and oxidative stress; this coordinated regulation may be important for survival in an adverse aerobic environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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