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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2005 Jan;29(1):119-44.

Iron and heme utilization in Porphyromonas gingivalis.

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Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Laboratory of Biochemistry, Wroclaw University, Tamka 2, 50-137 Wroclaw, Poland.


Porphyromonas gingivalis is a Gram-negative anaerobic bacterium associated with the initiation and progression of adult periodontal disease. Iron is utilized by this pathogen in the form of heme and has been shown to play an essential role in its growth and virulence. Recently, considerable attention has been given to the characterization of various secreted and surface-associated proteins of P. gingivalis and their contribution to virulence. In particular, the properties of proteins involved in the uptake of iron and heme have been extensively studied. Unlike other Gram-negative bacteria, P. gingivalis does not produce siderophores. Instead it employs specific outer membrane receptors, proteases (particularly gingipains), and lipoproteins to acquire iron/heme. In this review, we will focus on the diverse mechanisms of iron and heme acquisition in P. gingivalis. Specific proteins involved in iron and heme capture will be described. In addition, we will discuss new genes for iron/heme utilization identified by nucleotide sequencing of the P. gingivalis W83 genome. Putative iron- and heme-responsive gene regulation in P. gingivalis will be discussed. We will also examine the significance of heme/hemoglobin acquisition for the virulence of this pathogen.

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