Date of Award

Summer 6-25-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Dabney W. Dixon


In Streptococcus pyogenes, the protein SiaA (HtsA) is part of a heme uptake pathway system and involved in heme transfer from Shp to the ABC transporter. SiaA mutants, in which alanine replaces the axial histidine (H229) and methionine (M79) ligands, as well as a lysine (K61) and cysteine (C58) located near the heme propionates, are reported. Studies on a mutant of a cysteine expected to be at a distance from the propionates (C47A) are also reported. The coordination state and spin state of the selected mutants were determined via Resonance Raman studies. The pKa values of mutants ranged from 9.0 to 9.4, which were close to the pKa of the WT SiaA (9.7). The midpoint reduction potential of lysine (K61A) mutant was determined by spectroelectrochemical titration to be 61 ± 3 mV vs. SHE, similar to the WT protein (68 ± 3 mV). The addition of guanidinium hydrochloride resulted in protein denaturation that could show more than one process and occurred over days. The ease of protein unfolding was directly related to the extent of interaction of the residues with the heme: changes in the axial ligands resulted in far greater changes in heme protein stability than changes in the residues near the heme propionates.

The causative agent of diphtheriae, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, imports heme via an ABC uptake transporter. In this research, two of the five proteins in the heme uptake pathway of C. diphtheriae were studied. These proteins were HmuT, lipoprotein component of the ABC transporter, and HtaA, the heme receptor. UV-visible spectroscopy and fluorescence spectroscopy showed that HmuT protein as isolated bound a porphyrin, rather than heme. Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) studies suggested that two tetrapyrroles were bound. To assess stability of this protein towards heme release, thermal denaturation studies were performed. For HtaA, UV-visible and fluorescence spectroscopy also showed the protein as isolated was also bound a porphyrin, rather than heme. Homology studies showed that HtaA protein is quiet distant from homologous heme uptake proteins and could be a member of novel heme binding domain family.