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Mol Microbiol. 1996 May;20(4):725-39.

The hmu locus of Yersinia pestis is essential for utilization of free haemin and haem--protein complexes as iron sources.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40536-0084, USA.


Yersinia pestis strains utilize haem and several haem-protein complexes as sole sources of iron. In this study, the haemin uptake locus (hmu) of Y. pestis KIM6+ was selected from a genomic library by transduction into an Escherichia coli siderophore synthesis (entC) mutant. Recombinant plasmids containing a common 16 kb BamHI insert were isolated that allowed E. coli entC to use haemin as an iron source. An 8.6 kb region of this insert was found to be essential for haemin utilization and encoded at least five proteins with molecular masses of 79/77, 44, 37, 35, and 30/27.5 kDa. A 10.9 kb Clal fragment containing the hmu locus showed varying degrees of homology to genomic DNA from Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, Yersinia enterocolitica, and other genera of Enterobacteriaceae. An E. coli hemA aroB strain harbouring cloned hmu genes used haemin as both an iron and porphyrin source but only on iron-poor medium, suggesting that haemin uptake is tightly iron regulated. Additionally, haemoglobin and myoglobin were used as iron sources by an E. coli entC (pHMU2.2) strain. Deletion of the hmu locus from Y. pestis KIM6+ chromosome generated a mutant that grew poorly on iron-depleted medium containing free haemin as well as mammalian haem-protein complexes including haemoglobin, haemoglobin-haptoglobin, myoglobin, haem-haemopexin, and haem-albumin unless it was complemented with cloned hmu genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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