Genomics of Acinetobacter baumannii iron uptake

Irene Artuso, Harsh Poddar, Benjamin A. Evans, Paolo Visca

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Iron is essential for growth in most bacteria due to its redox activity and its role in essential metabolic reactions; it is a cofactor for many bacterial enzymes. The bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii is a multidrug-resistant nosocomial pathogen. A. baumannii responds to low iron availability imposed by the host through the exploitation of multiple iron-acquisition strategies, which are likely to deliver iron to the cell under a variety of environmental conditions, including human and animal infection. To date, six different gene clusters for active iron uptake have been described in A. baumannii , encoding protein systems involved in (i) ferrous iron uptake (feo); (ii) haem uptake (hemT and hemO); and (iii) synthesis and transport of the baumannoferrin(s) (bfn), acinetobactin (bas/bau) and fimsbactin(s) (fbs) siderophores. Here we describe the structure, distribution and phylogeny of iron-uptake gene clusters among >1000 genotypically diverse A. baumannii isolates, showing that feo, hemT, bfn and bas/bau clusters are very prevalent across the dataset, whereas the additional haem-uptake system hemO is only present in a portion of the dataset and the fbs gene cluster is very rare. Since the expression of multiple iron-uptake clusters can be linked to virulence, the presence of the additional haem-uptake system hemO may have contributed to the success of some A. baumannii clones.
Original languageEnglish
Article number001080
JournalMicrobial Genomics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2023


  • Acinetobacter baumannii
  • haem
  • iron uptake
  • phylogeny
  • sequence type
  • siderophore

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