Fimsbactin and Acinetobactin Compete for the Periplasmic Siderophore Binding Protein BauB in Pathogenic Acinetobacter baumannii

Tabbetha J. Bohac, Luting Fang, Daryl E. Giblin, Timothy A. Wencewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Environmental and pathogenic microbes produce siderophores as small iron-binding molecules to scavenge iron from natural environments. It is common for microbes to produce multiple siderophores to gain a competitive edge in mixed microbial environments. Strains of human pathogenic Acinetobacter baumannii produce up to three siderophores: acinetobactin, baumannoferrin, and fimsbactin. Production of acinetobactin and baumannoferrin is highly conserved among clinical isolates while fimsbactin production appears to be less common. Fimsbactin is structurally related to acinetobactin through the presence of catecholate and phenolate oxazoline metal-binding motifs, and both are derived from nonribosomal peptide assembly lines with similar catalytic domain orientations and identities. Here we report on the chemical, biochemical, and microbiological investigation of fimsbactin and acinetobactin alone and in combination. We show that fimsbactin forms a 1:1 complex with iron(III) that is thermodynamically more stable than the 2:1 acinetobactin ferric complex. Alone, both acinetobactin and fimsbactin stimulate A. baumannii growth, but in combination the two siderophores appear to compete and collectively inhibit bacterial growth. We show that fimsbactin directly competes with acinetobactin for binding the periplasmic siderophore-binding protein BauB suggesting a possible biochemical mechanism for the phenomenon where the buildup of apo-siderophores in the periplasm leads to iron starvation. We propose an updated model for siderophore utilization and competition in A. baumannii that frames the molecular, biochemical, and cellular interplay of multiple iron acquisition systems in a multidrug resistant Gram-negative human pathogen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-687
Number of pages14
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 19 2019


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