Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 17113104
J. Mol. Biol. 2007 Jan;365(4):1176-86
To satisfy their iron needs, several Gram-negative bacteria use a heme uptake system involving an extracellular heme-binding protein called hemophore. The function of the hemophore is to acquire free or hemoprotein-bound heme and to transfer it to HasR, its specific outer membrane receptor, by protein-protein interaction. The hemophore HasA secreted by Serratia marcescens, an opportunistic pathogen, was the first to be identified and is now very well characterized. HasA is a monomer that binds one b heme with strong affinity. The heme in HasA is highly exposed to solvent and coordinated by an unusual pair of ligands, a histidine and a tyrosine. Here, we report the identification, the characterization and the X-ray structure of a dimeric form of HasA from S. marcescens: DHasA. We show that both monomeric and dimeric forms are secreted in iron deficient conditions by S. marcescens. The crystal structure of DHasA reveals that it is a domain swapped dimer. The overall structure of each monomeric subunit of DHasA is very similar to that of HasA but formed by parts coming from the two different polypeptide chains, involving one of the heme ligands. Consequently DHasA binds two heme molecules by residues coming from both polypeptide chains. We show here that, while DHasA can bind two heme molecules, it is not able to deliver them to the receptor HasR. However, DHasA can efficiently transfer its heme to the monomeric form that, in turn, delivers it to HasR. We assume that DHasA can function as a heme reservoir in the hemophore system.