SUMMARY: The specificity by which species acquired iron from transferrin (TF) was investigated. In a plate bioassay used iron bound to human, bovine and rabbit TFs but not mouse, rat, dog, horse, guinea-pig, pig or ovo- TFs or human and bovine lactoferrins. In contrast, used iron only from pig TF whilst was unable to utilize iron bound to any of the human or animal TFs tested. The inhibition of growth imposed on type b strain Eagan by the addition of the synthetic iron chelator EDDA to the culture medium was reversed by 30% iron-saturated human TF added directly to the medium but not when the TF was contained inside a dialysis bag. Dot-blotting of whole cells revealed that human TF bound to the surface of bacteria cultured in iron-restricted but not in iron-plentiful media. Incubation of whole bacterial cells in the presence of the proteolytic enzyme trypsin also abolished TF-binding activity, suggesting that the TF receptor was a protein. In competition dot blotting experiments, human and bovine but not rabbit, dog, mouse or guinea-pig TFs blocked the binding of a horseradish peroxidase-human TF conjugate. SDS-PAGE and Western blotting of outer membranes revealed the presence of a TF-binding protein of approximately 72 kDa. These results suggest that the acquisition of TF-bound iron by type b probably involves a direct interaction with an outer-membrane protein which shows some TF-species specificity.


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