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The Gram‐negative pathogen Vibrio vulnificus produces several iron‐sequestration systems including a hemin uptake system in response to iron limitation as a means to acquire this essential element. Strains of this organism are capable of causing serious septicemia in humans and eels, where hemin is abundant and an advanta‐ geous source of iron. Vibrio vulnificus hemin uptake systems consist of HupA, a well studied outer membrane protein, and a recently identified HvtA protein receptor. In this study, we confirmed that the expression of the hvtA gene is iron‐regulated in a fur‐dependent manner. When analyzed for virulence in a hemin‐overloaded murine model system, the hupA gene was more important for establishing infection than the hvtA gene. Transcriptional profiling of these genes using strains of two different biotypes, biotype 1 (human pathogen) and biotype 2 (eel pathogen), showed that the expression of the two receptors was also regulated in response to temperature. The expression of hupA was highly induced in elevated temperatures in the human pathogenic strain when tested in iron‐depleted conditions. Conversely, hvtA expres‐ sion was induced significantly in the eel pathogenic strain at a lower temperature, a condition where the hupA locus was relatively repressed. Our results indicate that although both hupA and hvtA are involved for optimal hemin uptake in V. vulnificus, their expression is dually regulated by the environmental cues of iron concentration and temperature. Together, these data suggest that the virulence genes hupA and hvtA are tightly regulated and strictly induced during iron limitation combined with the physiological temperature of the host organism.

Author Supplied Keywords

Hemin, HupA, HvtA, Iron, Vibrio vulnificus


Cytology; Pathogenic microorganisms

Publication Information

Archived version is the final published version.

© 2019 Ryan Kenton





Document Type

Journal Article