# The ABC exporter IrtAB imports and reduces mycobacterial siderophores

## Abstract

Intracellular replication of the deadly pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis relies on the production of small organic molecules called siderophores that scavenge iron from host proteins$^{1}$. M. tuberculosis produces two classes of siderophore, lipid-bound mycobactin and water-soluble carboxymycobactin$^{2,3}$. Functional studies have revealed that iron-loaded carboxymycobactin is imported into the cytoplasm by the ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporter IrtAB$^{4}$, which features an additional cytoplasmic siderophore interaction domain$^{5}$. However, the predicted ABC exporter fold of IrtAB is seemingly contradictory to its import function. Here we show that membrane-reconstituted IrtAB is sufficient to import mycobactins, which are then reduced by the siderophore interaction domain to facilitate iron release. Structure determination by X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy not only confirms that IrtAB has an ABC exporter fold, but also reveals structural peculiarities at the transmembrane region of IrtAB that result in a partially collapsed inward-facing substrate-binding cavity. The siderophore interaction domain is positioned in close proximity to the inner membrane leaflet, enabling the reduction of membrane-inserted mycobactin. Enzymatic ATPase activity and in vivo growth assays show that IrtAB has a preference for mycobactin over carboxymycobactin as its substrate. Our study provides insights into an unusual ABC exporter that evolved as highly specialized siderophore-import machinery in mycobacteria.

## Abstract

Intracellular replication of the deadly pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis relies on the production of small organic molecules called siderophores that scavenge iron from host proteins$^{1}$. M. tuberculosis produces two classes of siderophore, lipid-bound mycobactin and water-soluble carboxymycobactin$^{2,3}$. Functional studies have revealed that iron-loaded carboxymycobactin is imported into the cytoplasm by the ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporter IrtAB$^{4}$, which features an additional cytoplasmic siderophore interaction domain$^{5}$. However, the predicted ABC exporter fold of IrtAB is seemingly contradictory to its import function. Here we show that membrane-reconstituted IrtAB is sufficient to import mycobactins, which are then reduced by the siderophore interaction domain to facilitate iron release. Structure determination by X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy not only confirms that IrtAB has an ABC exporter fold, but also reveals structural peculiarities at the transmembrane region of IrtAB that result in a partially collapsed inward-facing substrate-binding cavity. The siderophore interaction domain is positioned in close proximity to the inner membrane leaflet, enabling the reduction of membrane-inserted mycobactin. Enzymatic ATPase activity and in vivo growth assays show that IrtAB has a preference for mycobactin over carboxymycobactin as its substrate. Our study provides insights into an unusual ABC exporter that evolved as highly specialized siderophore-import machinery in mycobacteria.

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2 citations in Web of Science®
1 citation in Scopus®