Send to

Choose Destination
J Bacteriol. 2012 Jan;194(1):15-27. doi: 10.1128/JB.05260-11. Epub 2011 Oct 21.

Characterization of the Bacteroides fragilis bfr gene product identifies a bacterial DPS-like protein and suggests evolutionary links in the ferritin superfamily.

Author information

Thermal Biology Institutea and Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, USA.


A factor contributing to the pathogenicity of Bacteroides fragilis, the most common anaerobic species isolated from clinical infections, is the bacterium's extreme aerotolerance, which allows survival in oxygenated tissues prior to anaerobic abscess formation. We investigated the role of the bacterioferritin-related (bfr) gene in the B. fragilis oxidative stress response. The bfr mRNA levels are increased in stationary phase or in response to O(2) or iron. In addition, bfr null mutants exhibit reduced aerotolerance, and the bfr gene product protects DNA from hydroxyl radical cleavage in vitro. Crystallographic studies revealed a protein with a dodecameric structure and greater similarity to an archaeal DNA protection in starved cells (DPS)-like protein than to the 24-subunit bacterioferritins. Similarity to the DPS-like (DPSL) protein extends to the subunit and includes a pair of conserved cysteine residues juxtaposed to a buried dimetal binding site within the four-helix bundle. Compared to archaeal DPSLs, however, this bacterial DPSL protein contains several unique features, including a significantly different conformation in the C-terminal tail that alters the number and location of pores leading to the central cavity and a conserved metal binding site on the interior surface of the dodecamer. Combined, these characteristics confirm this new class of miniferritin in the bacterial domain, delineate the similarities and differences between bacterial DPSL proteins and their archaeal homologs, allow corrected annotations for B. fragilis bfr and other dpsl genes within the bacterial domain, and suggest an evolutionary link within the ferritin superfamily that connects dodecameric DPS to the (bacterio)ferritin 24-mer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center