Functional analysis of an feoB mutant in Clostridium perfringens strain 13

Milena M. Awad, Jackie K. Cheung, Joanne E. Tan, Alastair G. McEwan, Dena Lyras, Julian I. Rood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial pathogens have adopted numerous mechanisms for acquiring iron from host proteins during an infection, including the direct acquisition of ferric iron from heme-associated proteins or from iron-scavenging siderophores. Ferric iron then is transported into the cytosol, where it can be utilized by the bacterial pathogen. Under anaerobic conditions bacteria can also transport ferrous iron using the transmembrane complex FeoAB, but little is known about iron transport systems in anaerobic bacteria such as the pathogenic clostridia. In this study we sought to characterize the iron acquisition process in Clostridium perfringens. Bioinformatic analysis of the Clostridium perfringens strain 13 genome sequence revealed that it has seven potential iron acquisition systems: three siderophore-mediated systems, one ferric citrate uptake system, two heme-associated acquisition systems and one ferrous iron uptake system (FeoAB). The relative level of expression of these systems was determined using quantitative real-time RT-PCR assays that were specific for one gene from each system. Each of these genes was expressed, with the feoAB genes generating the most abundant iron-uptake related transcripts. To further examine the role of this system in the growth of C. perfringens, insertional inactivation was used to isolate a chromosomal feoB mutant. Growth of this mutant in the presence and absence of iron revealed that it had altered growth properties and a markedly reduced total iron and manganese content compared to the wild type; effects that were reversed upon complementation with the wild-type feoB gene. These studies suggest that under anaerobic conditions FeoB is the major protein required for the uptake of iron into the cell and that it may play an important role in the pathogenesis of C. perfringens infections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-17
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • iron uptake
  • toxin
  • bacterial growth
  • clostridium perfringens
  • manganese

Cite this