In Escherichia coli the Fhu, Fep and Fec transport systems are involved in the uptake of chelated ferric iron-siderophore complexes, whereas in pathogenic strains heme can also be used as an iron source. An essential step in these pathways is the movement of the ferric-siderophore complex or heme from the outer membrane transporter across the periplasm to the cognate cytoplasmic membrane ATP-dependent transporter. This is accomplished in each case by a dedicated periplasmic binding protein (PBP). Ferric-siderophore binding PBPs belong to the PBP protein superfamily and adopt a bilobal type III structural fold in which the two independently folded amino and carboxy terminal domains are linked together by a single long α-helix of approximately 20 amino acids. Recent structural studies reveal how the PBPs of the Fhu, Fep, Fec and Chu systems are able to bind their corresponding ligands. These complex structures will be discussed and placed in the context of our current understanding of the entire type III family of Gram-negative periplasmic binding proteins and related Gram-positive substrate binding proteins.
©2011 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York