HmbR outer membrane receptors of pathogenic Neisseria spp. Iron- regulated, hemoglobin-binding proteins with a high level of primary structure conservation

Igor Stojiljkovic, Jason Larson, Vivian Hwa, Suzana Anic, S. O. Magdalene

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We have recently cloned and characterized the hemoglobin receptor gene from Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C. N. meningitidis cells expressing HmbR protein were able to bind biotinylated hemoglobin, and the binding was specifically inhibited by unlabeled hemoglobin and not heme. The HmbR-mediated hemoglobin binding activity of N. meningitidis cells was shown to be iron regulated. The presence of hemoglobin but not heme in the growth medium stimulated HmbR-mediated hemoglobin binding activity. The efficiency of utilization of different hemoglobins by the HmbR-expressing N. meningitidis cells was shown to be species specific; human hemoglobin was the best source of iron, followed by horse, rat, turkey, dog, mouse, and sheep hemoglobins. The phenotypic characterization of HmbR mutants of some clinical strains of N. meningitidis suggested the existence of two unrelated hemoglobin receptors. The HmbR-unrelated hemoglobin receptor was shown to be identical to Hpu, the hemoglobin-haptoglobin receptor of N. meningitidis. The Hpu-dependent hemoglobin utilization system was not able to distinguish between different sources of hemoglobin; all animal hemoglobins were utilized equally well. HmbR- like genes are also present in N. meningitidis serogroups A and B, Neisseria gonorrhoeae MS11 and FA19, Neisseria perflava, and Neisseria polysaccharea. The hemoglobin receptor genes from N. meningitidis serogroups A and B and N. gonorrhoeae MS11 were cloned, and their nucleotide sequences were determined. The nucleotide sequence identity ranged between 86.5% (for N. meningitidis serogroup B hmbR and MS11 hmbR) and 93.4% (for N. meningitidis serogroup B hmbR and N. meningitidis serogroup C hmbR). The deduced amino acid sequences of these neisserial hemoglobin receptors were also highly related, with overall 84.7% conserved amino acid residues. A stop codon was found in the hmbR gene of N. gonorrhoeae MS11. This strain was still able to use hemoglobin and hemoglobin-haptoglobin complexes as iron sources, indicating that some gonncocci may express only the HmbR-independent hemoglobin utilization system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4670-4678
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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