Summary: Addition of the iron chelators 2,2-dipyridyl, deferoxamine mesylate or apotransferrin to culture media affected the composition and the morphology of cells. Cells grown under iron-restricted conditions expressed iron-regulated proteins and, in addition, iron deprivation markedly reduced the amount of capsular material covering the cells of . The addition of iron neutralized the effect of these chelators on capsule production. Cells of grown under iron-restricted conditions were more labelled by gold particles coated with polymyxin which is known to interact with the lipid A-core region of lipopolysaccharides, and showed increased affinity for porcine respiratory tract mucus than cells grown under iron-sufficient conditions. Bacterial cells grown in peritoneal chambers in rats were also only covered by a thin layer (15-20 nm) of capsular material. Although the capsule is believed to be an important virulence factor, our data indicate that under iron-restricted conditions, such as those encountered may not be heavily encapsulated.


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