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CO-Releasing Molecules Have Nonheme Targets in Bacteria: Transcriptomic, mathematical Modeling and Biochemical Analyses of CORM-3 [Ru(CO) 3 Cl (glycinate)] Actions on a Heme-Deficient Mutant of Escherichia coli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Jayne Louise Wilson
  • Lauren K. Wareham
  • Samantha Mclean
  • Ronald Begg
  • Sarah Greaves
  • Brian E. Mann
  • Guido Sanguinetti
  • Robert K. Poole

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-162
Number of pages15
JournalAntioxidants and Redox Signaling
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2015


Carbon monoxide-releasing molecules (CORMs) are being developed with the ultimate goal of safely utilizing the therapeutic potential of CO clinically, including applications in antimicrobial therapy. Hemes are generally considered the prime targets of CO and CORMs, so we tested this hypothesis using heme-deficient bacteria, applying cellular, transcriptomic, and biochemical tools. Results: CORM-3 [Ru(CO)3Cl(glycinate)] readily penetrated Escherichia coli hemA bacteria and was inhibitory to these and Lactococcus lactis, even though they lack all detectable hemes. Transcriptomic analyses, coupled with mathematical modeling of transcription factor activities, revealed that the response to CORM-3 in hemA bacteria is multifaceted but characterized by markedly elevated expression of iron acquisition and utilization mechanisms, global stress responses, and zinc management processes. Cell membranes are disturbed by CORM-3. Innovation: This work has demonstrated for the first time that CORM-3 (and to a lesser extent its inactivated counterpart) has multiple cellular targets other than hemes. A full understanding of the actions of CORMs is vital to understand their toxic effects. Conclusion: This work has furthered our understanding of the key targets of CORM-3 in bacteria and raises the possibility that the widely reported antimicrobial effects cannot be attributed to classical biochemical targets of CO. This is a vital step in exploiting the potential, already demonstrated, for using optimized CORMs in antimicrobial therapy.

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