Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Biol Chem. 2007 Sep 7;282(36):26111-21. Epub 2007 Jul 16.

Signaling and DNA-binding activities of the Staphylococcus aureus HssR-HssS two-component system required for heme sensing.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, USA.


For the important human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, host heme is a vital source of nutrient iron during infection. Paradoxically, heme is also toxic at high concentrations and is capable of killing S. aureus. To maintain cellular heme homeostasis, S. aureus employs the coordinated actions of the heme sensing two-component system (HssRS) and the heme regulated transporter efflux pump (HrtAB). HssRS-dependent expression of HrtAB results in the alleviation of heme toxicity and tempered staphylococcal virulence. Although genetic experiments have defined the role of HssRS in the heme-dependent activation of hrtAB, the mechanism of this activation is not known. Furthermore, the global effect of HssRS on S. aureus gene expression has not been evaluated. Herein, we combine multivariable difference gel electrophoresis with mass spectrometry to identify the heme-induced cytoplasmic HssRS regulon. These experiments establish hrtAB as the major target of activation by HssRS in S. aureus. In addition, we show that signaling between the sensor histidine kinase HssS and the response regulator HssR is necessary for growth of S. aureus in high concentrations of heme. Finally, we show that a direct repeat DNA sequence within the hrtAB promoter is required for heme-induced, HssR-dependent expression driven by this promoter and that phosphorylated HssR binds to this direct repeat upon exposure of S. aureus to high concentrations of heme. Taken together, these data establish the mechanism for HssRS-dependent expression of HrtAB and, in turn, provide a functional understanding for how S. aureus avoids heme-mediated toxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Publication types, MeSH terms, Substances, Grant support

Publication types

MeSH terms


Grant support

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center