Direct Heme Transfer Reactions in the Group A Streptococcus Heme Acquisition Pathway

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The heme acquisition machinery in Group A Streptococcus (GAS) consists of the surface proteins Shr and Shp and ATP-binding cassette transporter HtsABC. Shp cannot directly acquire heme from methemoglobin (metHb) but directly transfers its heme to HtsA. It has not been previously determined whether Shr directly relays heme from metHb to Shp. Thus, the complete pathway for heme acquisition from metHb by the GAS heme acquisition machinery has remained unclear. In this study, the metHb-to-Shr and Shr-to-Shp heme transfer reactions were characterized by spectroscopy, kinetics and protein-protein interaction analyses. Heme is efficiently transferred from the β and α subunits of metHb to Shr with rates that are 7 and 60 times greater than those of the passive heme release from metHb, indicating that Shr directly acquires heme from metHb. The rapid heme transfer from Shr to Shp involves an initial heme donor/acceptor complex and a spectrally and kinetically detectable transfer intermediate, implying that heme is directly channeled from Shr to Shp. The present results show that Shr speeds up heme transfer from metHb to Shp, whereas Shp speeds up heme transfer from Shr to HtsA. Furthermore, the findings demonstrate that Shr can interact with metHb and Shp but not HtsA. Taken together with our published results on the Shp/HtsA reaction, these findings establish a model of the heme acquisition pathway in GAS in which Shr directly extracts heme from metHb and Shp relays it from Shr to HtsA.



Biochemistry, Immunology, Cellular biology


LU C, Xie G, Liu M, Zhu H, Lei B. 2012. Direct Heme Transfer Reactions in the Group A Streptococcus Heme Acquisition Pathway. PLoS One 7(5):e37556.
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