Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2011-07


The natural resistance-associated macrophage protein from the protozoan parasite Perkinsus marinus mediates iron uptake.




Lin, Z; Fernandez-Robledo, JA; Cellier, MFM; Vasta, GR


Biochemistry 50(29):6340-6355




Microbial pathogens succeed in acquiring essential metals such as iron and manganese despite their limited availability because of the host's immune response. The eukaryotic natural resistance-associated macrophage proteins mediate uptake of divalent metals and, during infection, may compete directly for metal acquisition with the pathogens' transporters. In this study, we characterize the Nramp gene family of Perkinsus marinus, an intracellular parasite of the eastern oyster, and through yeast complementation, we demonstrate for the first time for a protozoan parasite that Nramp imports environmental Fe. Three PmNramp isogenes differ in their exon-intron structures and encode transcripts that display a trans splicing leader at the 5' end. The protein sequences share conserved properties predicted for the Nramp/Solute carrier 11 (Ski 1) family, such as 12-transmembrane segment (TMS) topology (N- and C-termini cytoplasmic) and preferential conservation of four TMS predicted to form a pseudosymmetric proton/metal symport pathway. Yeast fet3fet4 mutant complementation assays showed iron transport activity for PmNramp1 and a fusion chimera of the PmNramp3 hydrophobic core and PmNramp 1 N- and C-termini. PmNramp1 site directed mutagenesis demonstrated that Slc11 invariant and predicted pseudosymmetric Motifs (TMS1 Asp-Pro-Gly and TMS6 Met-Pro-His) are key for transport function. PmNramp 1 TMSI mutants D76E, G78A, and D76E/G78A prevented membrane protein expression, while TMS6 M250A, H252Y, and M250A/H252Y specifically abrogated Fe uptake; the TMS6 H252Y mutation also correlates with divergence from Nramp specificity for divalent metals.

Maryland Sea Grant Topic(s): 

'Related Research Project(s)' link to details about research projects funded by Maryland Sea Grant that led to this publication. These details may include other impacts and accomplishments resulting from the research.

'Maryland Sea Grant Topic(s)' links to related pages on the Maryland Sea Grant website.