Differential activation of Staphylococcus aureus heme detoxification machinery by heme analogues

Catherine Wakeman, Devin L. Stauff, Yaofang Zhang, Eric P. Skaar

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The reactive nature of heme enables its use as an enzymatic cofactor while rendering excess heme toxic. The importance of heme detoxification machinery is highlighted by the presence of various types of these homeostatic systems in Gram-positive and Gram-negative microorganisms. A number of pathogens possess orthologs of the HssRS/HrtAB heme detoxification system, underscoring a potential role this system plays in the survival of bacteria in heme-rich environments such as the vertebrate host. In this work, we sought to determine the role of this system in protection against metalloporphyrin heme analogues identified by previous studies as antimicrobial agents. Our findings demonstrate that only toxic metalloporphyrins maximally activate expression of the Staphylococcus aureus heme detoxification system, suggesting that the sensing mechanism of HssRS might require a component of the associated toxicity rather than or in addition to the metalloporphyrin itself. We further establish that
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1335-1342
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


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