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No iron in Lyme

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Iron sequestration is one way that human cells limit bacterial growth. In the 2 June issue of Science, Posey and Gherardini show that the Lyme disease pathogen, Borrelia burgdorferi, has responded by eliminating most genes that encode iron-requiring proteins, and substituting manganese for iron in the few metalloproteins that are left (Science 2000, 288:1651-1653). This is possible because the bacterium is an obligate parasite that lacks the enzymes for most biosynthetic pathways. As a result the bacterium grows happily with fewer than 10 atoms of iron present per cell.

References

  1. 1.

    Iron uptake mechanisms of pathogenic bacteria.

  2. 2.

    Science Magazine, [http://www.sciencemag.org/]

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Keywords

  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Human Cell
  • Bacterial Growth
  • Biosynthetic Pathway