, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 255-264

Degradation of desferrioxamines by Azospirillum irakense: Assignment of metabolites by HPLC/electrospray mass spectrometry

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Abstract

Based on a recent finding that an Azospirillum isolate ASP-1 possessing high 16S rDNA similarity to Azospirillum irakense was able to degrade desferrioxamine type siderophores (Winkelmann et al. BioMetals 9, 78-83, 1996), various members of the genus Azospirillum were analyzed for their ability to degrade desferrioxamines. While the desferrioxamine-degrading activity was absent or scarcely detectable in strains of A. lipoferum, A. brasilense, A. amazonense, degradation activity seemed to be confined to the species A. irakense (KBC-1, KA3). Also the identity of strain ASP-1 as A. irakense could be confirmed by species-specific oligonucleotide hybridization, InterLINE PCR fingerprinting and carbon source utilization pattern (BIOLOG) analysis. Products of desferrioxamine B degradation were analyzed by analytical HPLC and HPLC/electrospray mass spectrometry. Using whole cells and purified enzyme it was shown that the trihydroxamate desferrioxamine B (561 amu) is split at the N-terminal amide bond yielding a monohydroxamate (MH1, 219 amu) and a dihydroxamate (DH1, 361 amu) metabolite. A second monohydroxamate (MH2, 319 amu) resulted from DH1 after splitting the acetylhydroxamate bond. Minor amounts of a further dihydroxamate (DH2, 419 amu) originated from splitting the second amide bond in desferrioxamine B. In addition to desferrioxamine B, several other linear and cyclic desferrioxamines and derivatives were degraded, whereas desferricoprogen and desferri-ferrichrome were not degraded, indicating high substrate specificity of the desferrioxamine hydrolase in A. irakense species. A simple microtiter plate assay was developed which can be used to phenotypically discriminate and identify species of A. irakense from other Azospirillum species by their characteristic feature of desferrioxamine degradation.