The role of ferritins in the physiology of Salmonella enterica sv. Typhimurium: a unique role for ferritin B in iron-sulphur cluster repair and virulence


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Ferritins are ubiquitous iron (Fe) storage proteins that play a fundamental role in cellular Fe homeostasis. The enteric pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium possesses four ferritins: bacterioferritin, ferritin A, ferritin B and Dps. The haem-containing bacterioferritin (Bfr) accounts for the majority of stored Fe, followed by ferritin A (FtnA). Inactivation of bfr elevates the intracellular free Fe concentration and enhances susceptibility to H2O2 stress. The DNA-binding Dps protein provides protection from oxidative damage without affecting the steady-state intracellular free Fe concentration. FtnB appears to be particularly important for the repair of oxidatively damaged Fe-sulphur clusters of aconitase and, in contrast to Bfr and FtnA, is required for Salmonella virulence in mice. Moreover, ftnB and dps are repressed by the Fe-responsive regulator Fur and induced under conditions of Fe limitation, whereas bfr and ftnA are maximally expressed when Fe is abundant. The absence of a conserved ferroxidase domain and the potentiation of oxidative stress by FtnB in some strains lacking Dps suggest that FtnB serves as a facile cellular reservoir of Fe2+.