GeneChip expression analysis of the iron starvation response in Pseudomonas aeruginosa: identification of novel pyoverdine biosynthesis genes

Mol Microbiol. 2002 Sep;45(5):1277-87. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2002.03084.x.


Upon iron restriction, the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa produces various virulence factors, including siderophores, exotoxin, proteases and haemolysin. The ferric uptake regulator (Fur) plays a central role in this response and also controls other regulatory genes, such as pvdS, which encodes an alternative sigma factor. This circuit leads to a hierarchical cascade of direct and indirect iron regulation. We used the GeneChip to analyse the global gene expression profiles in response to iron. In iron-starved cells,the expression of 118 genes was increased at least fivefold compared with that in iron-replete cells, whereas the expression of 87 genes was decreased at least fivefold. The GeneChip data correlated well with results obtained using individual lacZ gene fusions. Strong iron regulation was observed for previously identified genes involved in biosynthesis or uptake of the siderophores pyoverdine and pyochelin, utilization of heterologous siderophores and haem and ferrous iron transport. A low-iron milieu led to increased expression of the genes encoding TonB, alkaline protease,PrpL protease, exotoxin A, as well as fumarase C, Mn-dependent superoxide dismutase SodA, a ferredoxin and ferredoxin reductase and several oxidoreductases and dehydrogenases. Iron-controlled regulatory genes included seven alternative sigma factors and five other transcriptional regulators. Roughly 20% of the iron-regulated genes encoded proteins of unknown function and lacked any conclusive homologies. Under low-iron conditions, expression of 26 genes or operons was reduced in a DeltapvdS mutant compared with wild type, including numerous novel pyoverdine biosynthetic genes. The GeneChip proved to be a very useful tool for rapid gene expression analysis and identification of novel genes controlled by Fur or PvdS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / drug effects
  • Genes, Bacterial* / drug effects
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron / pharmacology
  • Multigene Family
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Oligopeptides*
  • Pigments, Biological / biosynthesis*
  • Pigments, Biological / genetics*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / metabolism*
  • Sigma Factor / genetics
  • Sigma Factor / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Oligopeptides
  • Pigments, Biological
  • PvdS protein, Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Sigma Factor
  • pyoverdin
  • Iron