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Microbiology. 2005 Oct;151(Pt 10):3427-33.

Dimeric Brucella abortus Irr protein controls its own expression and binds haem.

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Instituto de Investigaciones Biotecnológicas, Instituto Tecnológico de Chascomús (IIB, INTECH), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Universidad Nacional de General San Martín (CONICET-UNSAM), San Martín, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Brucella abortus needs to synthesize haem in order to replicate intracellularly and to produce virulence in mice. Thus, to gain insight into the pathogenesis of the bacterium, regulatory proteins of the haem biosynthetic pathway were sought. An iron response regulator (Irr) from Bradyrhizobium japonicum, which is a close relative of Brucella, was previously described as being involved in the coordination of haem biosynthesis and iron availability. The Bru. abortus genome was searched for an irr orthologue gene, and the Bru. abortus irr gene was cloned, sequenced and disrupted. A null mutant was constructed that accumulated protoporphyrin IX under conditions of iron deprivation. This phenotype was overcome by a complementing plasmid carrying the wild-type irr. Purified recombinant Bru. abortus Irr behaved as a stable dimer and bound haem. Interestingly, in vivo, Irr was only detected in cells obtained from iron-limited cultures and the protein downregulated its own transcription. Through lacZ fusion, it was demonstrated that iron did not regulate irr transcription. The data reported show that Bru. abortus Irr is a homodimeric protein that is accumulated in iron-limited cells, controls its own transcription and downregulates the biosynthesis of haem precursors.

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