UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Hemoglobin binding, heme extraction and heme transfer by the Staphylococcus aureus surface protein IsdB Bowden, Catherine F. M.


Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus is a common member of the normal human flora, but can also cause serious infections. Survival and growth of S. aureus is dependent on the acquisition of iron from the host, wherein the majority of iron occurs as part of the heme molecule in the oxygen-carrier protein hemoglobin (Hb). S. aureus possesses a system of proteins designed to use heme and hemoglobin as an iron source: the iron-regulated surface determinant (Isd) system. IsdB is the primary Hb receptor and extracts heme from Hb at the cell surface for transfer to IsdA or IsdC, which then transfer it to the membrane transporter for internalization. IsdB contains two NEAT domains (IsdB-N1 and IsdB-N2) which were hypothesized to carry out the Hb-binding, heme binding and heme transfer functions of the protein. Heme binding by IsdB-N2 was characterized biochemically and the crystal structure of heme-reconstituted IsdB-N2 was solved. IsdB-N2 bore the canonical eight-stranded β-sandwich NEAT domain fold and used a conserved Tyr residue to coordinate heme-iron, as well as a non-conserved Met residue, resulting in a novel Tyr-Met hexacoordinate heme-iron. Biochemical differences between equivalent mutations produced in IsdBN² and IsdBN¹N² introduced the possibility of intraprotein domain interactions. The molecular mechanism for heme transfer from IsdB-N2 to IsdA-N1 was investigated using stopped-flow spectroscopy and the kinetics of heme transfer from IsdB-N2 to IsdA-N1 were modeled. The rate of heme transfer between the isolated NEAT domains was similar to that measured for the full-length proteins. Only a recombinant construct with both domains in a contiguous unit (IsdBN¹N²) could bind Hb with high affinity. Spectroscopic analysis demonstrated that both domains were also required to extract heme from Hb. In a reconstituted model of the biological heme relay pathway, IsdB catalyzed heme transfer from Hb to IsdA at a rate 370-fold slower than heme transfer from IsdBN² to IsdAN¹, revealing that heme transfer from Hb to IsdB is the rate-limiting step in this pathway. Finally, the serum Hb-binding protein haptoglobin blocked heme uptake from Hb by IsdB, revealing new areas for exploration of function. These studies provide insight into mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions during infection.

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