The ferric uptake regulator of Helicobacter pylori: a critical player in the battle for iron and colonization of the stomach

Future Microbiol. 2013 Jun;8(6):725-38. doi: 10.2217/fmb.13.43.


Helicobacter pylori is arguably one of the most successful pathogens; it colonizes the stomachs of more than half of the human population. Colonization and persistence in such an inhospitable niche requires the presence of exquisite adaptive mechanisms. One of the proteins that contributes significantly to the remarkable adaptability of H. pylori is the ferric uptake regulator (Fur), which functions as a master regulator of gene expression. In addition to genes directly related to iron homeostasis, Fur controls expression of several enzymes that play a central role in metabolism and energy production. The absence of Fur leads to severe H. pylori colonization defects and, accordingly, several Fur-regulated genes have been shown to be essential for colonization. Moreover, proteins encoded by Fur-regulated genes have a strong impact on redox homeostasis in the stomach and are major determinants of inflammation. In this review, we discuss the main roles of Fur in the biology of H. pylori and highlight the importance of this regulatory protein in the infectious process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Helicobacter pylori / genetics
  • Helicobacter pylori / metabolism
  • Helicobacter pylori / pathogenicity
  • Helicobacter pylori / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Stomach / microbiology*
  • Virulence
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Virulence Factors
  • ferric uptake regulating proteins, bacterial
  • Iron