Characterization of the haem-uptake system of the equine pathogen Streptococcus equi subsp. equi

Mary Meehan*, Fiona M. Burke, Susan Macken, Peter Owen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Streptococcus equi possesses a haem-uptake system homologous to that of Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus zooepidemicus. The system consists of two ligand-binding proteins (Shr and Shp) and proteins (HtsA-C) with homology to an ABC transporter. The haem-uptake system of S. equi differs from that of S. pyogenes and S. zooepidemicus in that Shr is truncated by two-thirds. This study focused on the SeShr, SeShp and SeHtsA proteins of S. equi. Analysis of shr, shp and shphtsA knockout mutants showed that all three proteins were expressed in vitro and that expression was upregulated under conditions of iron limitation. SeShr possesses no membrane-/cell wall-spanning sequences and was shown to be secreted. Both SeShp and SeHtsA were confirmed to be envelope-associated. Recombinant SeShp and SeHtsA proteins have been previously shown to bind haem and SeHtsA could capture haem from SeShp. This report extends these studies and shows that both SeShp and SeHtsA can sequester haem from haemoglobin but not from haemoglobin-haptoglobin complexes. Like full-length Shr, SeShr possesses haemoglobin and haemoglobin-haptoglobin binding ability but unlike full-length Shr, it lacks haem- or fibronectin-binding capabilities. Analysis of SeShr truncates showed that residues within and upstream of the near transporter (NEAT) domain are required for this ligand binding. Structural predictions suggest that truncation of NEAT1 in SeShr accounts for its impaired ability to bind haem. Haem and haemoglobin restored to almost normal the impaired growth rates of wild-type S. equi cultured under iron-limiting conditions. However, no difference in the growth rates of wild-type and mutants could be detected under the in vitro growth conditions tested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1824-1835
Number of pages12
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


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