Haem (protohaem IX) analogues are toxic compounds and have been considered for use as antibacterial agents, but the primary mechanism behind their toxicity has not been demonstrated. Using the haem protein catalase in the Gram-positive bacterium Enterococcus faecalis as an experimental system, we show that a variety of haem analogues can be taken up by bacterial cells and incorporated into haem-dependent enzymes. The resulting cofactor-substituted proteins are dysfunctional, generally resulting in arrested cell growth or death. This largely explains the cell toxicity of haem analogues. In contrast to many other organisms, E. faecalis does not depend on haem for growth, and therefore resists the toxicity of many haem analogues. We have exploited this feature to establish a bacterial in vivo system for the production of cofactor-substituted haem protein variants. As a pilot study, we produced, isolated and analysed novel catalase variants in which the iron atom of the haem prosthetic group is replaced by other metals, i.e. cobalt, gallium, tin, and zinc, and also variants containing meso-protoheme IX, ruthenium meso-protoporphyrin IX and (metal-free) protoporphyrin IX. Engineered haem proteins of this type are of potential use within basic research and the biotechnical industry. Structured digital abstract * MINT-7722358, MINT-7722368: katA (uniprotkb:Q834P5) and katA (uniprotkb:Q834P5) physically interact (MI:0915) by copurification (MI:0025).
- Biokemi och molekylärbiologi