Molecular genetics of fungal siderophore biosynthesis and uptake: the role of siderophores in iron uptake and storage

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2003 Sep;62(4):316-30. doi: 10.1007/s00253-003-1335-2. Epub 2003 May 21.


To acquire iron, all species have to overcome the problems of iron insolubility and toxicity. In response to low iron availability in the environment, most fungi excrete ferric iron-specific chelators--siderophores--to mobilize this metal. Siderophore-bound iron is subsequently utilized via the reductive iron assimilatory system or uptake of the siderophore-iron complex. Furthermore, most fungi possess intracellular siderophores as iron storage compounds. Molecular analysis of siderophore biosynthesis was initiated by pioneering studies on the basidiomycete Ustilago maydis, and has progressed recently by characterization of the relevant structural and regulatory genes in the ascomycetes Aspergillus nidulans and Neurospora crassa. In addition, significant advances in the understanding of utilization of siderophore-bound iron have been made recently in the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans as well as in the filamentous fungus A. nidulans. The present review summarizes molecular details of fungal siderophore biosynthesis and uptake, and the regulatory mechanisms involved in control of the corresponding genes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Fungal Proteins*
  • Fungi / genetics*
  • Fungi / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Siderophores / biosynthesis*
  • Siderophores / chemistry
  • Siderophores / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Siderophores
  • Transcription Factors
  • urbs1 protein, Ustilago maydis
  • Iron