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Heme oxygenases (HO) degrade heme yielding iron, carbon monoxide and one of four possible biliverdin (BV) isomers. Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 is thus far the only organism to contain two HOs with different regiospecificities: BphO and PigA. While BphO cleaves heme to exclusively yield BV IXα, PigA produces the BV isomers IXβ and IXδ. We bioinformatically identified putative HOs in diverse Pseudomonas strains, tested their enzymatic functionality and determined their regiospecificity. Surprisingly, even high amino acid sequence identities to the P. aeruginosa HOs were not sufficient to correctly predict the HO regiospecificity in all cases. Based on our results, Pseudomonas strains differ in their HO composition containing either BphO or PigA or both HO types. Concomitantly with the existence of bphO is the occurrence of at least one gene encoding a bacterial phytochrome implying that only BV IXα is the sufficient phytochrome chromophore. In contrast, pigA genes are organized in gene clusters associated with iron utilization implying a role of PigA in iron acquisition. However, at least in strains containing no PigA this function maybe fulfilled by BphO. Only a combination of homology searches and analyses of genetic environments is appropriate for a reliable prediction of the regiospecificity of Pseudomonas HOs.


Bjoern Gisk, Jessica Wiethaus, Marco Aras, Nicole Frankenberg-Dinkel. Variable composition of heme oxygenases with different regiospecificities in Pseudomonas species. Archives of microbiology. 2012 Jul;194(7):597-606

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PMID: 22318654

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