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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

A solute-binding protein for iron transport in Streptococcus iniae

Lili Zou, Jun Wang, Baofeng Huang, Mingquan Xie and Anxing Li*

Author Affiliations

Key Laboratory for Aquatic Products Safety of Ministry of Education/State Key Laboratory of Bio-control, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, 135 Xingang West Road, Haizhu District, Guangzhou 510275, PR China

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:309  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-309

Published: 1 December 2010



Streptococcus iniae (S. iniae) is a major pathogen that causes considerable morbidity and mortality in cultured fish worldwide. The pathogen's ability to adapt to the host affects the extent of infection, hence understanding the mechanisms by which S. iniae overcomes physiological stresses during infection will help to identify potential virulence determinants of streptococcal infection. Grow S. iniae under iron-restricted conditions is one approach for identifying host-specific protein expression. Iron plays an important role in many biological processes but it has low solubility under physiological condition. Many microorganisms have been shown to be able to circumvent this nutritional limitation by forming direct contacts with iron-containing proteins through ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters. The ABC transporter superfamilies constitute many different systems that are widespread among living organisms with different functions, such as ligands translocation, mRNA translation, and DNA repair.


An ABC transporter system, named as mtsABC (metal transport system) was cloned from S. iniae HD-1, and was found to be involved in heme utilization. mtsABC is cotranscribed by three downstream genes, i.e., mtsA, mtsB, and mtsC. In this study, we cloned the first gene of the mtsABC transporter system (mtsA), and purified the corresponding recombinant protein MtsA. The analysis indicated that MtsA is a putative lipoprotein which binds to heme that can serve as an iron source for the microorganism, and is expressed in vivo during Kunming mice infection by S. iniae HD-1.


This is believed to be the first report on the cloning the ABC transporter lipoprotein from S. iniae genomic DNA. Together, our data suggested that MtsA is associated with heme, and is expressed in vivo during Kunming mice infection by S. iniae HD-1 which indicated that it can be a potential candidate for S. iniae subunit vaccine.