An antioxidant role for catecholate siderophores in Salmonella

Biochem J. 2013 Sep 15;454(3):543-9. doi: 10.1042/BJ20121771.


Iron acquisition is an important aspect of the host-pathogen interaction. In the case of Salmonella it is established that catecholate siderophores are important for full virulence. In view of their very high affinity for ferric iron, functional studies of siderophores have been almost exclusively focused on their role in acquisition of iron from the host. In the present study, we investigated whether the siderophores (enterobactin and salmochelin) produced by Salmonella enterica sv. Typhimurium could act as antioxidants and protect from the oxidative stress encountered after macrophage invasion. Our results show that the ability to produce siderophores enhanced the survival of Salmonella in the macrophage mainly at the early stages of infection, coincident with the oxidative burst. Using siderophore biosynthetic and siderophore receptor mutants we demonstrated that salmochelin and enterobactin protect S. Typhimurium against ROS (reactive oxygen species) in vitro and that siderophores must be intracellular to confer full protection. We also investigated whether other chemically distinct siderophores (yersiniabactin and aerobactin) or the monomeric catechol 2,3-dihydroxybenzoate could provide protection against oxidative stress and found that only catecholate siderophores have this property. Collectively, the results of the present study identify additional functions for siderophores during host-pathogen interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / physiology*
  • Catechols / metabolism
  • Enterobactin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Enterobactin / physiology*
  • Glucosides
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Iron / physiology
  • Oxidants / metabolism
  • Salmonella typhimurium / growth & development
  • Salmonella typhimurium / metabolism*
  • Siderophores / physiology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Catechols
  • Glucosides
  • Oxidants
  • Siderophores
  • salmochelin S4
  • Enterobactin
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Iron