Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Microbiol. 1994 Nov;14(3):557-69.

Identification of genes involved in the sequestration of iron in mycobacteria: the ferric exochelin biosynthetic and uptake pathways.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461.


Mycobacteria produce two siderophores, mycobactin and exochelin. Mycobacterium smegmatis mutants defective in the production of exochelin were isolated using agar medium containing chrome azural S for the sensitive detection of siderophores. Cosmids of genomic libraries from M. smegmatis and Mycobacterium bovis BCG were screened for complementation of the mutation. Subcloning of the complementing M. smegmatis cosmid identified a 4.3 kb fragment required for restoring exochelin biosynthesis. Sequencing of the DNA revealed four open reading frames whose genes were named fxuA, fxuB, fxuC, and fxbA. FxuA, FxuB, and FxuC share amino acid sequence homology with the iron permeases FepG, FepC, and FepD from Escherichia coli, respectively. Deletion analysis identified fxbA as the gene required to restore exochelin biosynthesis in our mutant. Although fxbA does not share amino acid sequence homology with any of the published sequences for siderophore biosynthetic genes, it does show limited homology with the phosphoribosylglycineamide formyltransferases (GAR enzymes) and methionyl-tRNA formyltransferase over a limited region of the sequence, suggesting that fxbA may code for an enzyme which adds a formyl group in the synthesis of exochelin. A fusion of fxbA with the E. coli lacZ gene demonstrated regulation of gene expression by iron. The ability of M. smegmatis mutants to produce mycobactin in the absence of exochelin supports the hypothesis that exochelin is not a precursor of mycobactin and suggests that the siderophores have independent biosynthetic pathways. In addition, complementation of the M. smegmatis mutant with the BCG cosmid restored the synthesis of the M. smegmatis exochelin, demonstrating the use of M. smegmatis as a surrogate host for analysis of exochelins from slow-growing mycobacteria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center