Iron-source preference of Staphylococcus aureus infections

Eric P. Skaar, Munir Humayun, Taeok Bae, Kristin L. DeBord, Olaf Schneewind

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

272 Scopus citations


Although bacteria use different iron compounds in vitro, the possibility that microbes distinguish between these iron sources during infection has hitherto not been examined. We applied stable isotope labeling to detect source-specific iron by mass spectrometry and show that Staphylococcus aureus preferentially imports heme iron over transferrin iron. By combining this approach with computational genome analysis, we identified hts (heme transport system), a gene cluster that promotes preferred heme iron import by S. aureus. Heme iron scavenging by means of hts is required for staphylococcal pathogenesis in animal hosts, indicating that heme iron is the preferred iron source during the initiation of infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1626-1628
Number of pages3
Issue number5690
StatePublished - Sep 10 2004

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    Skaar, E. P., Humayun, M., Bae, T., DeBord, K. L., & Schneewind, O. (2004). Iron-source preference of Staphylococcus aureus infections. Science, 305(5690), 1626-1628.