A genome-wide screen reveals the involvement of enterobactin-mediated iron acquisition in Escherichia coli survival during copper stress. Academic Article uri icon


  • Copper (Cu) is a key transition metal that is involved in many important biological processes in a cell. Cu is also utilized by the immune system to hamper pathogen growth during infection. However, genome-level knowledge on the mechanisms involved in adaptation to Cu stress is limited. Here, we report the results of a genome-wide reverse genetic screen for Cu-responsive phenotypes in Escherichia coli. Our screen has identified novel genes involved in adaptation to Cu stress in E. coli. We detected multiple genes involved in the biosynthesis and uptake of enterobactin, a siderophore utilized for high-affinity TonB-dependent acquisition of iron (Fe), as critical players in survival under Cu intoxication. We demonstrated the specificity of Cu-dependent killing by chelation of Cu and by genetic complementation of tonB. Notably, TonB is involved in protection from Cu in both laboratory and uropathogenic strains of E. coli. Cu stress leads to increased expression of the genes involved in Fe uptake, indicating that Fur regulon is derepressed during exposure to excess Cu. Trace element analyses revealed that Fe homeostasis is dysregulated during Cu stress. Taken together, our data supports a model in which lack of enterobactin-dependent Fe uptake leads to exacerbation of Cu toxicity, and elucidates the intricate connection between the homeostasis of Cu and Fe in a bacterial cell.

published proceedings

  • Metallomics

altmetric score

  • 3.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Casanova-Hampton, K., Carey, A., Kassam, S., Garner, A., Donati, G. L., Thangamani, S., & Subashchandrabose, S.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Casanova-Hampton, Kaitlin||Carey, Alexis||Kassam, Sarah||Garner, Alyssa||Donati, George L||Thangamani, Shankar||Subashchandrabose, Sargurunathan

publication date

  • September 2021