Norepinephrine mediates acquisition of transferrin-iron in Bordetella bronchiseptica

Mark T. Anderson, Sandra K Armstrong

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48 Scopus citations


Previous research demonstrated that the sympathoadrenal catecholamine norepinephrine could promote the growth of Bordetella bronchiseptica in iron-restricted medium containing serum. In this study, norepinephrine was demonstrated to stimulate growth of this organism in the presence of partially iron-saturated transferrin but not lactoferrin. Although norepinephrine is known to induce transcription of the Bordetella bfeA enterobactin catechol xenosiderophore receptor gene, neither a bfeA mutant nor a bfeR regulator mutant was defective in growth responsiveness to norepinephrine. However, growth of a tonB mutant strain was not enhanced by norepinephrine, indicating that the response to this catecholamine was the result of high-affinity outer membrane transport. The B. bronchiseptica genome encodes a total of 19 known and predicted iron transport receptor genes, none of which, when mutated individually, were found to confer a defect in norepinephrine-mediated growth stimulation in the presence of transferrin. Labeling experiments demonstrated a TonB-dependent increase in cell-associated iron levels when bacteria grown in the presence of 55Fe-transferrin were exposed to norepinephrine. In addition, TonB was required for maximum levels of cell-associated norepinephrine. Together, these results demonstrate that norepinephrine facilitates B. bronchiseptica iron acquisition from the iron carrier protein transferrin and this process may represent a mechanism by which some bacterial pathogens obtain this essential nutrient in the host environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3940-3947
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2008


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