The sbiTRS Operon Contributes to Stenobactin-Mediated Iron Utilization in Stenotrophomonas maltophilia

Cheng Mu Wu, Li Hua Li, Yen Ling Lin, Chao Jung Wu, Yi Tsung Lin, Tsuey Ching Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Iron is an essential micronutrient for various bacterial cellular processes. Fur is a global transcriptional regulator participating in iron homeostasis. Stenotrophomonas maltophilia is a ubiquitous environmental bacterium that has emerged as an opportunistic pathogen. To elucidate the novel regulatory mechanism behind iron homeostasis in S. maltophilia, wild-type KJ and KJDFur, a fur mutant, were subjected to transcriptome assay. A five-gene cluster, sbiBA-sbiTRS, was significantly upregulated in KJDFur. SbiAB is an ATP type efflux pump, SbiT is an inner membrane protein, and SbiSR is a two-component regulatory system (TCS). The sbiTRS operon organization was verified by reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR). Localization prediction and bacterial two-hybrid studies revealed that SbiT resided in the inner membrane and had an intramembrane interaction with SbiS. In iron-replete conditions, SbiT interacted with SbiS and maintained SbiSR TCS in a resting state. In response to iron depletion stress, SbiT no longer interacted with SbiS, leading to SbiSR TCS activation. The iron source utilization assay demonstrated the contribution of SbiSR TCS to stenobactin-mediated ferric iron utilization but not to the utilization of hemin and ferric citrate. Furthermore, SmeDEF and SbiAB pumps, known stenobactin secretion outlets, were members of the SbiSR regulon. Collectively, in an iron-depleted condition, SbiSR activation is regulated by Fur at the transcriptional level and by SbiT at the posttranslational level. Activated SbiSR contributes to stenobactin-mediated ferric iron utilization by upregulating the smeDEF and sbiAB operons. SbiSR is the first TCS found to be involved in iron homeostasis in S. maltophilia.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • ABC-type efflux pump
  • iron homeostasis
  • stenobactin
  • Stenotrophomonas maltophilia
  • two-component regulatory system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases


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