Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen, synthesizing two major siderophores, pyoverdine (Pvd) and pyochelin (Pch), to cover its needs in iron(III). If the high affinity and specificity of Pvd toward iron(III) (pFe = 27.0) was well described in the literature, the physicochemical and coordination properties of Pch toward biologically relevant metals (Fe(III), Cu(II) or Zn(II)) have been only scarcely investigated. We report a thorough physico-chemical investigation of Pch (potentiometry, spectrophotometries, ESI/MS) that highlighted its moderate but significantly higher affinity for Fe3+ (pFe = 16.0 at p[H] 7.4) than reported previously. We also demonstrated that Pch strongly chelates divalent metals such as Zn(II) (pZn = 11.8 at p[H] 7.4) and Cu(II) (pCu = 14.9 at p[H] 7.4) and forms predominantly 1 : 2 (M2+/Pch) complexes. Kinetic studies revealed that the formation of the ferric Pch complexes proceeds through a Eigen-Wilkins dissociative ligand interchange mechanism involving two protonated species of Pch and the Fe(OH)2+ species of Fe(III). Our physico-chemical parameters supports the previous biochemical studies which proposed that siderophores are not only devoted to iron(III) shuttling but most likely display other specific biological role in the subtle metals homeostasis in microorganisms. This work also represents a step toward deciphering the role of siderophores throughout evolution.
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