Petrobactin protects against oxidative stress and enhances sporulation efficiency in Bacillus anthracis Sterne


Bacillus anthracis is a Gram-positive bacillus that under conditions of environmental stress, such as low nutrients, can convert from a vegetative bacillus to a highly durable spore that enables long-term survival. The sporulation process is regulated by a sequential cascade of dedicated transcription factors but requires key nutrients to complete, one of which is iron. Iron acquisition by the iron-scavenging siderophore petrobactin is required for vegetative growth of B. anthracis under iron-depleted conditions and in the host. However, the extent to which petrobactin is involved in spore formation is unknown. This work shows that efficient in vitro sporulation of B. anthracis requires petrobactin, that the petrobactin biosynthesis operon (asbA to -F) is induced prior to sporulation, and that the siderophore itself associates with spores. Petrobactin is also required for oxidative stress protection during late-stage growth and for wild-type levels of sporulation in sporulation medium. Sporulation in bovine blood was found to be petrobactin dependent. Collectively, the in vitro contributions of petrobactin to sporulation as well as growth imply that petrobactin may be required for B. anthracis transmission via the spore during natural infections, in addition to its key known functions during active anthrax infections.

In mBio
Ada K. Hagan, Ph.D.
Ada K. Hagan, Ph.D.

I am a microbiologist with a passion for making science accessible. I hope to use my background in communications and higher education to help make scientific concepts more easily understood and make the academy more inclusive to future scientists from all backgrounds.