Infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria can be challenging to treat due to the outer membrane permeability barrier and the increasing emergence of antibiotic resistance. During infection, Gram-negative pathogens must acquire iron, an essential nutrient, in the host. Many Gram-negative bacteria utilize sophisticated iron acquisition machineries based on siderophores, small molecules that bind iron with high affinity. In this review, we provide an overview of siderophore-mediated iron acquisition in Enterobacteriaceae and show how these systems provide a foundation for the conceptualization and development of approaches to prevent and/or treat bacterial infections. Differences between the siderophore-based iron uptake machineries of pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae and commensal microbes may lead to the development of selective "Trojan-horse" antimicrobials and immunization strategies that will not harm the host microbiota.
Keywords: Enterobacteriaceae; Gram-negative bacteria; iron; microcins; siderophores.
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