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Mol Microbiol. 2012 May;84(3):446-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2012.08032.x. Epub 2012 Mar 27.

Involvement of multiple distinct Bordetella receptor proteins in the utilization of iron liberated from transferrin by host catecholamine stress hormones.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Minnesota Medical School, 925 Mayo Memorial Building, 420 Delaware Street, S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455-0312, USA.


Bordetella bronchiseptica is a pathogen that can acquire iron using its native alcaligin siderophore system, but can also use the catechol xenosiderophore enterobactin via the BfeA outer membrane receptor. Transcription of bfeA is positively controlled by a regulator that requires induction by enterobactin. Catecholamine hormones also induce bfeA transcription and B. bronchiseptica can use the catecholamine noradrenaline for growth on transferrin. In this study, B. bronchiseptica was shown to use catecholamines to obtain iron from both transferrin and lactoferrin in the absence of siderophore. In the presence of siderophore, noradrenaline augmented transferrin utilization by B. bronchiseptica, as well as siderophore function in vitro. Genetic analysis identified BfrA, BfrD and BfrE as TonB-dependent outer membrane catecholamine receptors. The BfeA enterobactin receptor was found to not be involved directly in catecholamine utilization; however, the BfrA, BfrD and BfrE catecholamine receptors could serve as receptors for enterobactin and its degradation product 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid. Thus, there is a functional link between enterobactin-dependent and catecholamine-dependent transferrin utilization. This investigation characterizes a new B. bronchiseptica mechanism for iron uptake from transferrin that uses host stress hormones that not only deliver iron directly to catecholamine receptors, but also potentiate siderophore activity by acting as iron shuttles.

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