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Campylobacter jejuni is a leading cause of bacterially derived gastroenteritis. A previous mutant screen demonstrated that the heme uptake system (Chu) is required for full colonization of the chicken gastrointestinal tract. Subsequent work identified a PAS domain-containing regulator, termed HeuR, as being required for chicken colonization. Here we confirm that both the heme uptake system and HeuR are required for full chicken gastrointestinal tract colonization, with the hour mutant being particularly affected during competition with wild-type C. jejuni. Transcriptomic analysis identified the chu genes—and those encoding other iron uptake systems—as regulatory targets of HeuR. Purified HeuR bound the chuZA promoter region in electrophoretic mobility shift assays. Consistent with a role for HeuR in chu expression, heuR mutants were unable to efficiently use heme as a source of iron under iron-limiting conditions, and mutants exhibited decreased levels of cell-associated iron by mass spectrometry. Finally, we demonstrate that an heuR mutant of C. jejuni is resistant to hydrogen peroxide and that this resistance correlates to elevated levels of catalase activity. These results indicate that HeuR directly and positively regulates iron acquisition from heme and negatively impacts catalase activity by an as yet unidentified mechanism in C. jejuni.


This article was published openly thanks to the University of Tennessee Open Publishing Support Fund.

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