Ferritins are iron storage proteins assembled from 24 subunits into a spherical and hollow structure. The genomes of many bacteria harbor genes encoding two types of ferritin-like proteins, the bacterial ferritins (Ftn) and the bacterioferritins (Bfr), which bind heme. The genome of P. aeruginosa PAO1 (like the genomes of many bacteria) contains genes coding for two different types of ferritin-like molecules, ftnA (PA4235) and bfrB (PA3531). The reasons for requiring the presence of two distinct types of iron storage protein in bacterial cells have remained largely unexplained. Attempts to understand this issue in P. aeruginosa through the recombinant expression of the ftnA and bfrB genes in E. coli host cells, coupled to the biochemical and structural characterization of the recombinant 24-mer FtnA and 24-mer BfrB molecules, have shown that each of the recombinant molecules can form an Fe3+-mineral core. These observations led to the suggestion that 24-mer FtnA and 24-mer BfrB molecules coexist in P. aeruginosa cells where they share iron storage responsibilities. Herein, we demonstrate that P. aeruginosa utilizes a single heterooligomeric 24-mer Bfr assembled from FtnA and BfrB subunits. The relative content of the FtnA and BfrB subunits in Bfr depends on the O2 availability during cell culture, such that Bfr isolated from aerobically cultured P. aeruginosa is assembled from a majority of BfrB subunits. In contrast, when the cells are cultured in O2-limiting conditions, the proportion of FtnA subunits in the isolated Bfr increases significantly and can become the most abundant subunit. Despite the variability in the subunit composition of Bfr, the 24-mer assembly is consistently arranged from FtnA subunit dimers devoid of heme and BfrB subunit dimers each containing a heme molecule.
Yao, H.; Soldano, A.; Fontenot, L.; Donnarumma, F.; Lovell, S.; Chandler, J.R.; Rivera, M. Pseudomonas aeruginosa Bacterioferritin Is Assembled from FtnA and BfrB Subunits with the Relative Proportions Dependent on the Environmental Oxygen Availability. Biomolecules 2022, 12, 366. https://doi.org/10.3390/biom12030366