Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Bacillus cereus iron uptake protein fishes out an unstable ferric citrate trimer.

PMID 23027976


Citrate is a common biomolecule that chelates Fe(III). Many bacteria and plants use ferric citrate to fulfill their nutritional requirement for iron. Only the Escherichia coli ferric citrate outer-membrane transport protein FecA has been characterized; little is known about other ferric citrate-binding proteins. Here we report a unique siderophore-binding protein from the gram-positive pathogenic bacterium Bacillus cereus that binds multinuclear ferric citrate complexes. We have demonstrated that B. cereus ATCC 14579 takes up (55)Fe radiolabeled ferric citrate and that a protein, BC_3466 [renamed FctC (ferric citrate-binding protein C)], binds ferric citrate. The dissociation constant (K(d)) of FctC at pH 7.4 with ferric citrate (molar ratio 1:50) is 2.6 nM. This is the tightest binding observed of any B. cereus siderophore-binding protein. Nano electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (nano ESI-MS) analysis of FctC and ferric citrate complexes or citrate alone show that FctC binds diferric di-citrate, and triferric tricitrate, but does not bind ferric di-citrate, ferric monocitrate, or citrate alone. Significantly, the protein selectively binds triferric tricitrate even though this species is naturally present at very low equilibrium concentrations.

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Iron(III) citrate tribasic monohydrate, 18-20% Fe basis (T)
C6H5FeO7 · H2O