Deletion of a fur-like gene affects iron homeostasis and magnetosome formation in Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense

René Uebe, Birgit Voigt, Thomas Schweder, Dirk Albrecht, Emanuel Katzmann, Claus Lang, Lars Böttger, Berthold Matzanke, Dirk Schüler*

*Corresponding author for this work
42 Citations (Scopus)


Magnetotactic bacteria synthesize specific organelles, the magnetosomes, which are membrane-enveloped crystals of the magnetic mineral magnetite (Fe 3O4). The biomineralization of magnetite involves the uptake and intracellular accumulation of large amounts of iron. However, it is not clear how iron uptake and biomineralization are regulated and balanced with the biochemical iron requirement and intracellular homeostasis. In this study, we identified and analyzed a homologue of the ferric uptake regulator Fur in Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense, which was able to complement a fur mutant of Escherichia coli. A fur deletion mutant of M. gryphiswaldense biomineralized fewer and slightly smaller magnetite crystals than did the wild type. Although the total cellular iron accumulation of the mutant was decreased due to reduced magnetite biomineralization, it exhibited an increased level of free intracellular iron, which was bound mostly to a ferritin-like metabolite that was found significantly increased in Mössbauer spectra of the mutant. Compared to that of the wild type, growth of the fur mutant was impaired in the presence of paraquat and under aerobic conditions. Using a Fur titration assay and proteomic analysis, we identified constituents of the Fur regulon. Whereas the expression of most known magnetosome genes was unaffected in the fur mutant, we identified 14 proteins whose expression was altered between the mutant and the wild type, including five proteins whose genes constitute putative iron uptake systems. Our data demonstrate that Fur is a regulator involved in global iron homeostasis, which also affects magnetite biomineralization, probably by balancing the competing demands for biochemical iron supply and magnetite biomineralization.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number16
Pages (from-to)4192-4204
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 01.08.2010


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