Mycobacteria secrete the siderophore exochelin when grown under iron- limiting conditions. In order to understand iron uptake mechanisms in mycobacteria, we have taken a genetic approach to identify those genes involved in exochelin biosynthesis and transport in Mycobacterium smegmatis. Of the 6,000 chemically mutagenized clones of M. smegmatis mc2155 screened on agar plates containing chrome azural S, 19 mutants that had lost the ability to produce or secrete exochelin were identified. Thirteen of these mutants were complemented by a single M. smegmatis cosmid. Sequence analysis of this cosmid revealed nine open reading frames, three of which are homologous to genes encoding transporter proteins, which are likely involved in exochelin transport. Complementation and Tn10 mutagenesis analysis identified two new genes, fxbB and fxbC, which are required for exochelin biosynthesis. The fxbB and fxbC genes encode large proteins of 257 and 497 kDa, respectively, which are highly homologous to peptide synthetases, indicating that exochelin biosynthesis occurs by a nonribosomal mechanism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology