Molecular microbiology

The Vibrio cholerae VctPDGC system transports catechol siderophores and a siderophore-free iron ligand.

PMID 21790806


Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera, has an absolute requirement for iron. It transports the catechol siderophores vibriobactin, which it synthesizes and secretes, and enterobactin. These siderophores are transported across the inner membrane by one of two periplasmic binding protein-dependent ABC transporters, VctPDGC or ViuPDGC. We show here that one of these inner membrane transport systems, VctPDGC, also promotes iron acquisition in the absence of siderophores. Plasmids carrying the vctPDGC genes stimulated growth in both rich and minimal media of a Shigella flexneri mutant that produces no siderophores. vctPDGC also stimulated the growth of an Escherichia coli enterobactin biosynthetic mutant in low iron medium, and this effect did not require feoB, tonB or aroB. A tyrosine to phenylalanine substitution in the periplasmic binding protein VctP did not alter enterobactin transport, but eliminated growth stimulation in the absence of a siderophore. These data suggest that the VctPDGC system has the capacity to transport both catechol siderophores and a siderophore-free iron ligand. We also show that VctPDGC is the previously unidentified siderophore-independent iron transporter in V. cholerae, and this appears to complete the list of iron transport systems in V. cholerae.