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Mol Microbiol. 2006 Apr;60(2):427-37.

Bradyrhizobium japonicum senses iron through the status of haem to regulate iron homeostasis and metabolism.

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Department of Biochemistry, 140 Farber Hall, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York 14214, USA.


The Irr protein from the bacterium Bradyrhizobium japonicum is expressed under iron limitation to mediate iron control of haem biosynthesis. The regulatory input to Irr is the status of haem and its precursors iron and protoporphyrin at the site of haem synthesis. Here, we show that Irr controls the expression of iron transport genes and many other iron-regulated genes not directly involved in haem synthesis. Irr is both a positive and negative effector of gene expression, and in at least some cases the control is direct. Loss of normal iron responsiveness of those genes in an irr mutant, as well as a lower total cellular iron content, suggests that Irr is required for the correct perception of the cellular iron status. Degradation of Irr in iron replete cells requires haem. Accordingly, control of Irr-regulated genes by iron was aberrant in a haem-defective strain, and iron replete mutant cells behave as if they are iron-limited. In addition, the haem mutant had an abnormally high cellular iron content. The findings indicate that B. japonicum senses iron via the status of haem biosynthesis in an Irr-dependent manner to regulate iron homeostasis and metabolism.

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