Probing the Dynamic Nature of Mycobacterial Heme Homeostasis
Hale, Owen Francis
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Mycobacterium tuberculosis is responsible for more human deaths every year than any other bacterium. In order to establish an infection and cause disease, M. tuberculosis requires the nutrient heme. Heme is essential for numerous processes within the cell but is also cytotoxic, so its synthesis, uptake, and utilization must be tightly regulated by the bacterium. Despite the important role of this nutrient, relatively little is known about the regulation of its abundance and bioavailability. To better understand heme dynamics in mycobacteria, a total heme fluorescence assay and genetically encoded exchange labile heme sensors were used to observe changes in the abundance and bioavailability of heme in Mycobacterium smegmatis under various conditions. These experiments demonstrate that heme abundance and bioavailability in mycobacteria can change in response to physiologically relevant stresses and environmental cues.