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PLoS Pathog. 2008 Aug 22;4(8):e1000132. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000132.

Bacillus anthracis secretes proteins that mediate heme acquisition from hemoglobin.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.


Acquisition of iron is necessary for the replication of nearly all bacterial pathogens; however, iron of vertebrate hosts is mostly sequestered by heme and bound to hemoglobin within red blood cells. In Bacillus anthracis, the spore-forming agent of anthrax, the mechanisms of iron scavenging from hemoglobin are unknown. We report here that B. anthracis secretes IsdX1 and IsdX2, two NEAT domain proteins, to remove heme from hemoglobin, thereby retrieving iron for bacterial growth. Unlike other Gram-positive bacteria, which rely on cell wall anchored Isd proteins for heme scavenging, B. anthracis seems to have also evolved NEAT domain proteins in the extracellular milieu and in the bacterial envelope to provide for the passage of heme.

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