Effects of iron modulation on growth and viability of Rhodococcus equi and expression of virulence-associated protein A. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: To determine the importance of iron for in vitro growth of Rhodococcus equi, define potential iron sources in the environment and mechanisms by which R equi may obtain iron from the environment, and assess expression and immunogenicity of iron-regulated proteins. SAMPLE POPULATION: 10 virulent and 11 avirulent strains of R equi. PROCEDURE: In vitro growth rates and protein patterns of R equi propagated in media with normal, excess, or limited amounts of available iron were compared. Immunoblot analyses that used serum from foals naturally infected with R equi and monoclonal antibody against virulence-associated protein (Vap)A were conducted to determine immunogenicity and identity of expressed proteins. RESULTS: Excess iron did not alter growth of any R equi strains, whereas growth of all strains was significantly decreased in response to limited amounts of available iron. Virulent R equi were able to use iron from ferrated deferoxamine, bovine transferrin, and bovine lactoferrin. Only virulent R equi expressed an iron-regulated, immunogenic, surface-associated protein identified as VapA. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Iron is required for the growth and survival of R equi. Sources of iron for R equi, and mechanisms by which R equi acquire iron in vivo, may represent important virulence factors and novel targets for the development of therapeutic and immunoprophylactic strategies to control R equi infection in foals. Expression of VapA is substantially upregulated when there is a limited amount of available iron.

author list (cited authors)

  • Jordan, M. C., Harrington, J. R., Cohen, N. D., Tsolis, R. M., Dangott, L. J., Weinberg, E. D., & Martens, R. J.

citation count

  • 27

publication date

  • November 2003