Distinctive Roles of Two Acinetobactin Isomers in Challenging Host Nutritional Immunity

Mingi Kim, Do Young Kim, Woon Young Song, So Eun Park, Simone A. Harrison, Walter J. Chazin, Man Hwan Oh, Hak Joong Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The human pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii produces and utilizes acinetobactin for iron assimilation. Although two isomeric structures of acinetobactin, one featuring an oxazoline (Oxa) and the other with an isoxazolidinone (Isox) at the core, have been identified, their differential roles as virulence factors for successful infection have yet to be established. This study provides direct evidence that Oxa supplies iron more efficiently than Isox, primarily owing to its specific recognition by the cognate outer membrane receptor, BauA. The other components in the acinetobactin uptake machinery appear not to discriminate these isomers. Interestingly, Oxa was found to form a stable iron complex that is resistant to release of the chelated iron upon competition by Isox, despite their comparable apparent affinities to Fe(III). In addition, both Oxa and Isox were found to be competent iron chelators successfully scavenging iron from host metal sequestering proteins responsible for nutritional immunity. These observations collectively led us to propose a new model for acinetobactin-based iron assimilation at infection sites. Namely, Oxa is the principal siderophore mediating the core Fe(III) supply chain for A. baumannii, whereas Isox plays a minor role in the iron delivery and, alternatively, functions as an auxiliary iron collector that channels the iron pool toward Oxa. The unique siderophore utilization mechanism proposed here represents an intriguing strategy for pathogen adaptation under the various nutritional stresses encountered at infection sites.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02248-21
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct 1


  • Acinetobacter baumannii
  • Iron metabolism
  • Nutritional immunity
  • Siderophore
  • Virulence factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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