An ECF-type transporter scavenges heme to overcome iron-limitation in Staphylococcus lugdunensis

Angelika Jochim, Lea Adolf, Darya Belikova, Nadine Anna Schilling, Inda Setyawati, Denny Chin, Severien Meyers, Peter Verhamme, David E Heinrichs, Dirk J Slotboom, Simon Heilbronner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Energy-coupling factor type transporters (ECF) represent trace nutrient acquisition systems. Substrate binding components of ECF-transporters are membrane proteins with extraordinary affinity, allowing them to scavenge trace amounts of ligand. A number of molecules have been described as substrates of ECF-transporters, but an involvement in iron-acquisition is unknown. Host-induced iron limitation during infection represents an effective mechanism to limit bacterial proliferation. We identified the iron-regulated ECF-transporter Lha in the opportunistic bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus lugdunensis and show that the transporter is specific for heme. The recombinant substrate-specific subunit LhaS accepted heme from diverse host-derived hemoproteins. Using isogenic mutants and recombinant expression of Lha, we demonstrate that its function is independent of the canonical heme acquisition system Isd and allows proliferation on human cells as sources of nutrient iron. Our findings reveal a unique strategy of nutritional heme acquisition and provide the first example of an ECF-transporter involved in overcoming host-induced nutritional limitation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57322
Number of pages20
Early online date9-Jun-2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2020

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