Structural basis for hemoglobin capture by Staphylococcus aureus cell-surface protein, IsdH

Kaavya Krishna Kumar, David A. Jacques, Gleb Pishchany, Tom Caradoc-Davies, Thomas Spirig, G. Reza Malmirchegini, David B Langley, Claire F. Dickson, Joel P Mackay, Robert T. Clubb, Eric P. Skaar, J Mitchell Guss, David Anthony Gell

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Pathogens must steal iron from their hosts to establish infection. In mammals, hemoglobin (Hb) represents the largest reservoir of iron, and pathogens express Hb-binding proteins to access this source. Here, we show how one of the commonest and most significant human pathogens, Staphylococcus aureus, captures Hb as the first step of an iron-scavenging pathway. The x-ray crystal structure of Hb bound to a domain from the Isd (iron-regulated surface determinant) protein, IsdH, is the first structure of a Hb capture complex to be determined. Surface mutations in Hb that reduce binding to the Hb-receptor limit the capacity of S. aureus to utilize Hb as an iron source, suggesting that Hb sequence is a factor in host susceptibility to infection. The demonstration that pathogens make highly specific recognition complexes with Hb raises the possibility of developing inhibitors of Hb binding as antibacterial agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38439-38447
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes

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