Iron assimilation in Cryptococcus neoformans

J Med Vet Mycol. 1992;30(6):443-50.


We studied the effects of iron chelators and of a thallium salt on growth of Cryptococcus neoformans in defined medium. An oxidant-sensitive mutant strain was found to require exogenous ferric iron for growth. Using this strain, we found that the synthetic iron chelator, N-hydroxyethylenediamine triacetate (HEDTA), in several saturation states, stimulated growth as well as the comparably saturated siderophore deferoxamine. This non-specific result makes the existence of a cryptococcal ferrihydroxamate receptor doubtful. The catechols, caffeic acid, L-3, 4-dihydroxyphenylalanine, epinephrine, gallic acid, 3-hydroxytyramine (dopamine) and norepinephrine, were tested for growth stimulation in iron deprivation, under conditions in which deferoxamine was stimulatory. Catechols were found to be either neutral or inhibitory. The ferrous iron chelator, bathophenanthroline disulfonate (BPDS), inhibited growth strongly in the absence of exogenous iron, suggesting that ferric ion must be reduced before it can be internalized. Direct evidence of extracellular reduction was provided by accumulation of red-coloured ferrous-BPDS complex. The inhibition caused by BPDS was relieved by ferric HEDTA, even in the presence of 10-fold increased BPDS, suggesting a second, low-affinity, non-reductive iron uptake pathway. This inference was further supported by the observation that toxicity of the non-reducible ferric analogue, thallium (III), is relieved by iron repletion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Catechols / pharmacology
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / drug effects
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / growth & development
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / metabolism*
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron Chelating Agents / pharmacology
  • Mutation
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Thallium / pharmacology


  • Catechols
  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • Thallium
  • Iron