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J Bacteriol. 2005 Jul;187(14):4865-74.

Identification of the iron-responsive genes of Neisseria gonorrhoeae by microarray analysis in defined medium.

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Laboratory for Genomics and Bioinformatics, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Biomedical Research Center, Oklahoma City, 73104, USA.


To ensure survival, most bacteria must acquire iron, a resource that is sequestered by mammalian hosts. Pathogenic bacteria have therefore evolved intricate systems to sense iron limitation and regulate gene expression appropriately. We used a pan-Neisseria microarray to examine genes regulated in Neisseria gonorrhoeae in response to iron availability in defined medium. Overall, 203 genes varied in expression, 109 up-regulated and 94 down-regulated by iron deprivation. In iron-replete medium, genes essential to rapid bacterial growth were preferentially expressed, while iron transport functions, and predominantly genes of unknown function, were expressed in low-iron medium. Of those TonB-dependent proteins encoded in the FA1090 genome with unknown ligand specificity, expression of three was not controlled by iron availability, suggesting that these receptors may not be high-affinity transporters for iron-containing ligands. Approximately 30% of the operons regulated by iron appeared to be directly under control of Fur. Our data suggest a regulatory cascade where Fur indirectly controls gene expression by affecting the transcription of three secondary regulators. Our data also suggest that a second MerR-like regulator may be directly responding to iron availability and controlling transcription independent of the Fur protein. Comparison of our data with those recently published for Neisseria meningitidis revealed that only a small portion of genes were found to be similarly regulated in these closely related pathogens, while a large number of genes derepressed during iron starvation were unique to each organism.

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