Staphylococcus aureus Coproporphyrinogen III Oxidase Is Required for Aerobic and Anaerobic Heme Synthesis
Choby, Jacob E.
Skaar, Eric P.
The virulence of the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus is supported by many heme-dependent proteins, including key enzymes of cellular respiration. Therefore, synthesis of heme is a critical component of staphylococcal physiology. S. aureus generates heme via the coproporphyrin-dependent pathway, conserved across members of the Firmicutes and Actinobacteria. In this work, we genetically investigate the oxidation of coproporphyrinogen to coproporphyrin in this heme synthesis pathway. The coproporphyrinogen III oxidase CgoX has previously been identified as the oxygen-dependent enzyme responsible for this conversion under aerobic conditions. However, because S. aureus uses heme during anaerobic nitrate respiration, we hypothesized that coproporphyrin production is able to proceed in the absence of oxygen. Therefore, we tested the contribution to anaerobic heme synthesis of CgoX and two other proteins previously identified as potential oxygen-independent coproporphyrinogen dehydrogenases, NWMN_1486 and NWMN_1636. We have found that CgoX alone is responsible for aerobic and anaerobic coproporphyrin synthesis from coproporphyrinogen and is required for aerobic and anaerobic heme-dependent growth. This work provides an explanation for how S. aureus heme synthesis proceeds under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. IMPORTANCE Heme is a critical molecule required for aerobic and anaerobic respiration by organisms across kingdoms. The human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus has served as a model organism for the study of heme synthesis and heme-dependent physiology and, like many species of the phyla Firmicutes and Actinobacteria, generates heme through a coproporphyrin intermediate. A critical step in terminal heme synthesis is the production of coproporphyrin by the CgoX enzyme, which was presumed to be oxygen dependent. However, S. aureus also requires heme during anaerobic growth; therefore, the synthesis of coproporphyrin by an oxygen-independent mechanism is required. Here, we identify CgoX as the enzyme performing the oxygen-dependent and - independent synthesis of coproporphyrin from coproporphyrinogen, resolving a key outstanding question in the coproporphyrin-dependent heme synthesis pathway.