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Biometals. 2006 Apr;19(2):193-203.

Iron acquisition and transport in Staphylococcus aureus.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Chicago, CLSC Room 601, 920 E 58th Street, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA.


Pathogenic Gram-positive bacteria encounter many obstacles in route to successful invasion and subversion of a mammalian host. As such, bacterial species have evolved clever ways to prevent the host from clearing an infection, including the production of specialized virulence systems aimed at counteracting host defenses or providing protection from host immune mechanisms. Positioned at the interface of bacteria/host interactions is the bacterial cell wall, a dynamic surface organelle that serves a multitude of functions, ranging from physiologic processes such as structural scaffold and barrier to osmotic lysis to pathogenic properties, for example the deposition of surface molecules and the secretion of cytotoxins. In order to succeed in a battle with host defenses, invading bacteria need to acquire the nutrient iron, which is sequestered within host tissues. A cell-wall based iron acquisition and import pathway was uncovered in Staphylococcus aureus. This pathway, termed the isd or iron-responsive surface determinant locus, consists of a membrane transporter, cell wall anchored heme-binding proteins, heme/haptoglobin receptors, two heme oxygenases, and sortase B, a transpeptidase that anchors substrate proteins to the cell wall. Identification of the isd pathway provides an additional function to the already bountiful roles the cell wall plays in bacterial pathogenesis and provides new avenues for therapeutics to combat the rise of antimicrobial resistance in S. aureus. This review focuses on the molecular attributes of this locus, with emphasis placed on the mechanism of iron transport and the role of such a system during infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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