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Microbes Infect. 2009 Feb;11(2):311-4. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2008.11.014. Epub 2008 Dec 16.

Leptospira interrogans requires heme oxygenase for disease pathogenesis.

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Australian Bacterial Pathogenesis Program, Department of Microbiology, Monash University, VIC 3800, Australia.


We recently characterised the Leptospira interrogans heme oxygenase (hemO) gene and showed that HemO was required for growth with hemoglobin as the sole iron source. Here we investigated the role of HemO in pathogenesis. Hamsters inoculated with the hemO mutant showed 83% survival, compared with 33% for a control mutant (intergenic transposon insertion). Lung pathology was consistent with survival data, showing that HemO contributes significantly to pathogenesis and heme is a major in vivo iron source for L. interrogans. This is only the second defined, attenuated mutant in pathogenic Leptospira and the first to define function of the mutated gene.

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