National Research Council of Italy

Institute of Biosciences and BioResources

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IBBR publication #1410

Structural Biology of Bacterial Haemophores

Ascenzi P, di Masi A, Leboffe L, Frangipani E, Nardini M, Verde C, Visca P

Advances in Microbial Physiology, vol. 67, Elsevier, pp. 127-176. (2015)
doi: 10.1016/bs.ampbs.2015.09.002

Iron plays a key role in a wide range of metabolic and signalling functions representing an essential nutrient for almost all forms of life. However, the ferric form is hardly soluble, whereas the ferrous form is highly toxic. Thus, in biological fluids, most of the iron is sequestered in iron- or haem-binding proteins and the level of free iron is low, making haem and iron acquisition a challenge for pathogenic bacteria during infections. Although toxic to the host, free haem is a major and readily available source of iron for several pathogenic microorganisms. Both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria have developed several strategies to acquire free haem-Fe and protein-bound haem-Fe. Haemophores are a class of secreted and cell surface-exposed proteins promoting free-haem uptake, haem extraction from host haem proteins, and haem presentation to specific outer-membrane receptors that internalize the metal-porphyrins. Here, structural biology of bacterial haemophores is reviewed focusing on haem acquisition, haem internalization, and haem-degrading systems.

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