The RNA chaperone Hfq fulfills important roles in small regulatory RNA (sRNA) function in many bacteria. Loss of Hfq in the dissimilatory metal reducing bacterium Shewanella oneidensis strain MR-1 results in slow exponential phase growth and a reduced terminal cell density at stationary phase. We have found that the exponential phase growth defect of the hfq mutant in LB is the result of reduced heme levels. Both heme levels and exponential phase growth of the hfq mutant can be completely restored by supplementing LB medium with 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA), the first committed intermediate synthesized during heme synthesis. Increasing expression of gtrA, which encodes the enzyme that catalyzes the first step in heme biosynthesis, also restores heme levels and exponential phase growth of the hfq mutant. Taken together, our data indicate that reduced heme levels are responsible for the exponential growth defect of the S. oneidensis hfq mutant in LB medium and suggest that the S. oneidensis hfq mutant is deficient in heme production at the 5-ALA synthesis step.
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© 2014 Brennan et al.