The ferroxidase centre of Escherichia coli bacterioferritin plays a key role in the reductive mobilisation of the mineral iron core

Justin M. Bradley, Zinnia Bugg, Aaren Sackey, Simon C. Andrews, Michael T. Wilson, Dimitri A. Svistunenko, Geoffrey R. Moore, Nick E. Le Brun

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Ferritins are multimeric cage-forming proteins that play a crucial role in cellular iron homeostasis. All H-chain-type ferritins harbour a diiron site, the ferroxidase centre, at the centre of a 4 α–helical bundle, but bacterioferritins are unique in also binding 12 hemes per 24meric assembly. The ferroxidase centre is known to be required for the rapid oxidation of Fe2+ during deposition of an immobilised ferric mineral core within the protein’s hollow interior. In contrast, the heme of bacterioferritin is required for the efficient reduction of the mineral core during iron release, but has little effect on the rate of either oxidation or mineralisation of iron. Thus, the current view is that these two cofactors function in iron uptake and release, respectively, with no functional overlap. However, rapid electron transfer between the heme and ferroxidase centre of bacterioferritin from Escherichia coli was recently demonstrated, suggesting that the two cofactors may be functionally connected. Here we report absorbance and (magnetic) circular dichroism spectroscopies, together with in vitro assays of iron-release kinetics, which demonstrate that the ferroxidase centre plays an important role in the reductive mobilisation of the bacterioferritin mineral core, which is dependent on the heme-ferroxidase centre electron transfer pathway.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202401379
JournalAngewandte Chemie-International Edition
Issue number16
Early online date26 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2024


  • Electron transfer
  • ferritin
  • heme
  • iron
  • iron homeostasis
  • magnetic circular dichroism

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