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Mol Oral Microbiol. 2017 Feb;32(1):1-23. doi: 10.1111/omi.12149. Epub 2016 Jan 28.

Heme acquisition mechanisms of Porphyromonas gingivalis - strategies used in a polymicrobial community in a heme-limited host environment.

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School of Dentistry, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.
Laboratory of Biochemistry, Faculty of Biotechnology, University of Wrocław, Wrocław, Poland.


Porphyromonas gingivalis, a main etiologic agent and key pathogen responsible for initiation and progression of chronic periodontitis requires heme as a source of iron and protoporphyrin IX for its survival and the ability to establish an infection. Porphyromonas gingivalis is able to accumulate a defensive cell-surface heme-containing pigment in the form of μ-oxo bisheme. The main sources of heme for P. gingivalis in vivo are hemoproteins present in saliva, gingival crevicular fluid, and erythrocytes. To acquire heme, P. gingivalis uses several mechanisms. Among them, the best characterized are those employing hemagglutinins, hemolysins, and gingipains (Kgp, RgpA, RgpB), TonB-dependent outer-membrane receptors (HmuR, HusB, IhtA), and hemophore-like proteins (HmuY, HusA). Proteins involved in intracellular heme transport, storage, and processing are less well characterized (e.g. PgDps). Importantly, P. gingivalis may also use the heme acquisition systems of other bacteria to fulfill its own heme requirements. Porphyromonas gingivalis displays a novel paradigm for heme acquisition from hemoglobin, whereby the Fe(II)-containing oxyhemoglobin molecule must first be oxidized to methemoglobin to facilitate heme release. This process not only involves P. gingivalis arginine- and lysine-specific gingipains, but other proteases (e.g. interpain A from Prevotella intermedia) or pyocyanin produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Porphyromonas gingivalis is then able to fully proteolyze the more susceptible methemoglobin substrate to release free heme or to wrest heme from it directly through the use of the HmuY hemophore.


Porphyromonas gingivalis ; heme; heme acquisition; hemoglobin; periodontal disease

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