Enhanced production of Shiga toxin 1 in enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli by oxygen
Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) produces Shiga toxin 1 (Stx1) and Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2). Although stx1 and stx2 were found within the late operons of the Stx-encoding phages (Stx-phages), stx1 could mainly be transcribed from the stx1 promoter (P Stx1), which represents the functional operator-binding site (Fur box) for the transcriptional regulator Fur (ferric uptake regulator), upstream of stx1. In this study, we found that the production of Stx1 by EHEC was affected by oxygen concentration. Increased Stx1 production in the presence of oxygen is dependent on Fur, which is an Fe2+-responsive transcription factor. The intracellular Fe2+ pool was lower under microaerobic conditions than under anaerobic conditions, suggesting that lower Fe2+ availability drove the formation of less Fe2+-Fur, less DNA binding to the P Stx1 region, and an increase in Stx1 production.