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Paquete, CM, Morgado L, Salgueiro CA, Louro RO.  2022.  Molecular Mechanisms of Microbial Extracellular Electron Transfer: The Importance of Multiheme Cytochromes, 2022-06-27. FBL. 27(6) AbstractWebsite

Extracellular electron transfer is a key metabolic process of many organismsthat enables them to exchange electrons with extracellular electrondonors/acceptors. The discovery of organisms with these abilities and theunderstanding of their electron transfer processes has become a priority for thescientific and industrial community, given the growing interest on the use ofthese organisms in sustainable biotechnological processes. For example, inbioelectrochemical systems electrochemical active organisms can exchangeelectrons with an electrode, allowing the production of energy and added-valuecompounds, among other processes. In these systems, electrochemical activeorganisms exchange electrons with an electrode through direct or indirectmechanisms, using, in most cases, multiheme cytochromes. In numerouselectroactive organisms, these proteins form a conductive pathway that allowselectrons produced from cellular metabolism to be transferred across the cellsurface for the reduction of an electrode, or vice-versa. Here, the mechanisms bywhich the most promising electroactive bacteria perform extracellular electrontransfer will be reviewed, emphasizing the proteins involved in these pathways.The ability of some of the organisms to perform bidirectional electron transferand the pathways used will also be highlighted.

Morgado, L, Salgueiro CA.  2022.  Elucidation of complex respiratory chains: a straightforward strategy to monitor electron transfer between cytochromes, 02. Metallomics. AbstractWebsite

{Cytochromes are electron transfer proteins essential in various biological systems, playing crucial roles in the respiratory chains of bacteria. These proteins are particularly abundant in electrogenic microorganisms and are responsible for the efficient delivery of electrons to the cells’ exterior. The capability of sending electron outside the cells open new avenues to be explored for emerging biotechnological applications in bioremediation, microbial electrosynthesis and bioenergy fields. To develop these applications, it is critical to identify the different redox partners and elucidate the stepwise electron transfer along the respiratory paths. However, investigating direct electron transfer events between proteins with identical features in nearly all spectroscopic techniques is extremely challenging. NMR spectroscopy offers the possibility to overcome this difficulty by analysing the alterations of the spectral signatures of each protein caused by electron exchange events. The uncrowded NMR spectral regions containing the heme resonances of the cytochromes display unique and distinct signatures in the reduced and oxidized states, which can be explored to monitor electron transfer within the redox complex. In this study, we present a strategy for a fast and straightforward monitorization of electron transfer between c-type cytochromes, using as model a triheme periplasmic cytochrome (PpcA) and a membrane associated monoheme cytochrome (OmcF) from the electrogenic bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens. The comparison between the 1D 1H NMR spectra obtained for samples containing the two cytochromes and for samples containing the individual proteins clearly demonstrated a unidirectional electron transfer within the redox complex. This strategy provides a simple and straightforward means to elucidate complex biologic respiratory electron transfer chains.}

Teixeira, LR, Fernandes TM, Silva MA, Morgado L, Salgueiro CA.  2022.  Characterization of a novel cytochrome involved in Geobacter sulfurreducens’ electron harvesting pathways. Chemistry – A European Journal. n/a, Number n/a AbstractWebsite

Electron harvesting bacteria are key targets to develop microbial electrosynthesis technologies, which are valid alternatives for the production of value-added compounds without utilization of fossil fuels. Geobacter sulfurreducens, that is capable of donating and accepting electrons from electrodes, is one of the most promising electroactive bacteria. Its electron transfer mechanisms to electrodes have been progressively elucidated, however the electron harvesting pathways are still poorly understood. Previous studies showed that the periplasmic cytochromes PccH and GSU2515 are overexpressed in current-consuming G. sulfurreducens biofilms. PccH was characterized, though no putative partners have been identified. In this work, GSU2515 was characterized by complementary biophysical techniques and in silico simulations using the AlphaFold neural network. GSU2515 is a low-spin monoheme cytochrome with a disordered N-terminal region and an α-helical C-terminal domain harboring the heme group. The cytochrome undergoes a redox-linked heme axial ligand switch, with Met91 and His94 as distal axial ligand in the reduced and oxidized state, respectively. The reduction potential of the cytochrome is negative and is modulated by the pH in the physiological range: -78 mV at pH 6 and -113 mV at pH 7. Such pH-dependence coupled to the redox-linked switch of the axial ligand allows the cytochrome to drive a proton-coupled electron transfer step that is crucial to confer directionality to the respiratory chain. Biomolecular interactions and electron transfer experiments indicated that GSU2515 and PccH form a redox complex. Overall, the data obtained highlights for the first time how periplasmic proteins bridge the electron transfer between the outer and inner membrane in the electron harvesting pathways of G. sulfurreducens.

Karamash, M, Stumpe M, Dengjel J, Salgueiro CA, Giese B, Fromm KM.  2022.  Reduction Kinetic of Water Soluble Metal Salts by Geobacter sulfurreducens: Fe2+/Hemes Stabilize and Regulate Electron Flux Rates. Frontiers in Microbiology. 13 AbstractWebsite

Geobacter sulfurreducens is a widely applied microorganism for the reduction of toxic metal salts, as an electron source for bioelectrochemical devices, and as a reagent for the synthesis of nanoparticles. In order to understand the influence of metal salts, and of electron transporting, multiheme c-cytochromes on the electron flux during respiration of G. sulfurreducens, the reduction kinetic of Fe3+, Co3+, V5+, Cr6+, and Mn7+ containing complexes were measured. Starting from the resting phase, each G. sulfurreducens cell produced an electron flux of 3.7 × 105 electrons per second during the respiration process. Reduction rates were within ± 30% the same for the 6 different metal salts, and reaction kinetics were of zero order. Decrease of c-cytochrome concentrations by downregulation and mutation demonstrated that c-cytochromes stabilized respiration rates by variation of their redox states. Increasing Fe2+/heme levels increased electron flux rates, and induced respiration flexibility. The kinetic effects parallel electrochemical results of G. sulfurreducens biofilms on electrodes, and might help to optimize bioelectrochemical devices.

Antunes, JMA, Silva MA, Salgueiro CA, Morgado L.  2022.  Electron Flow From the Inner Membrane Towards the Cell Exterior in Geobacter sulfurreducens: Biochemical Characterization of Cytochrome CbcL. Frontiers in Microbiology. 13 AbstractWebsite

Exoelectrogenic microorganisms are in the spotlight due to their unique respiratory mechanisms and potential applications in distinct biotechnological fields, including bioremediation, bioenergy production and microbial electrosynthesis. These applications rely on the capability of these microorganisms to perform extracellular electron transfer, a mechanism that allows the bacteria to transfer electrons to the cell’s exterior by establishing functional interfaces between different multiheme cytochromes at the inner membrane, periplasmic space, and outer membrane. The multiheme cytochrome CbcL from Geobacter sulfurreducens is associated to the inner membrane and plays an essential role in the transfer of electrons to final electron acceptors with a low redox potential, as Fe(III) oxides and electrodes poised at −100 mV. CbcL has a transmembranar di-heme b-type cytochrome domain with six helices, linked to a periplasmic cytochrome domain with nine c-type heme groups. The complementary usage of ultraviolet-visible, circular dichroism and nuclear magnetic resonance permitted the structural and functional characterization of CbcL’s periplasmic domain. The protein was found to have a high percentage of disordered regions and its nine hemes are low-spin and all coordinated by two histidine residues. The apparent midpoint reduction potential of the CbcL periplasmic domain was determined, suggesting a thermodynamically favorable transfer of electrons to the putative redox partner in the periplasm − the triheme cytochrome PpcA. The establishment of a redox complex between the two proteins was confirmed by probing the electron transfer reaction and the molecular interactions between CbcL and PpcA. The results obtained show for the first time how electrons are injected into the periplasm of Geobacter sulfurreducens for subsequent transfer to the cell’s exterior.

Salgueiro, CA, Morgado L, Silva MA, Ferreira MR, Fernandes TM, Portela PC.  2022.  From iron to bacterial electroconductive filaments: Exploring cytochrome diversity using Geobacter bacteria. Coordination Chemistry Reviews. 452:214284. AbstractWebsite

Iron is the most versatile of all biochemically active metals, with variability encompassing its electronic configuration, number of unpaired electrons, type of ligands and iron-complexes stability. The versatility of iron properties is transposed to the proteins it can be associated to, especially relevant in the case of heme proteins. In this Review, the structural and functional properties of heme proteins are revisited, with particular focus on c-type cytochromes. The genome of Geobacter bacteria encodes for an unusually high number of assorted c-type cytochromes and, for this reason, they are used in this Review as a showcase of the cytochrome diversity. In the last decades, a vast portfolio of cytochromes has been revealed in these bacteria, with most of them defining new classes, ranging from monoheme to the recently identified polymeric assembly of multiheme cytochromes that forms micrometer-long electrically conductive filaments. These discoveries were on pace with the development of modern NMR equipment and advances in protein isotopic labeling methods, which are also revisited in this Review. Finally, following the description of the current state of the art of Geobacter cytochromes, examples on how the available structural and functional information was explored to structurally map protein–protein and protein–ligand interacting regions in redox complexes, and hence elucidate Geobacter’s respiratory pathways, are presented.

Ferreira, MR, Fernandes TM, Turner DL, Salgueiro CA.  2022.  Molecular geometries of the heme axial ligands from the triheme cytochrome PpcF from Geobacter metallireducens reveal a conserved heme core architecture. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. 723:109220. AbstractWebsite

Electroactive Geobacter bacteria can perform extracellular electron transfer and present a wide metabolic versatility. These bacteria reduce organic, toxic and radioactive compounds, and produce electric current while interacting with electrodes, making them interesting targets for numerous biotechnological applications. Their global electrochemical responses rely on an efficient interface between the inside and the cell's exterior, which is driven by the highly abundant periplasmic triheme PpcA-family cytochromes. The functional features of these cytochromes have been studied in G. sulfurreducens and G. metallireducens, and although they share a high degree of structural homology and sequence identity, their properties are quite distinct. In this work, the heme axial ligand geometries and the magnetic properties of PpcF from G. metallireducens were determined. The data obtained constitute important constraints for the determination of its solution structure in the oxidized state and indicate that the (i) heme core architecture; (ii) axial ligands geometries and (iii) magnetic properties of the cytochrome are conserved compared to the other members of the PpcA-families. Furthermore, the results also indicate that the heme arrangement is crucial to maintain an intrinsic regulation of the protein's redox properties and hence its electron transfer efficiency and functionality.

Silva, MA, Portela PC, Salgueiro CA.  2021.  Rational design of electron/proton transfer mechanisms in the exoelectrogenic bacteria Geobacter sulfurreducens, 07. Biochemical Journal. 478:2871-2887., Number 14 AbstractWebsite

{The redox potential values of cytochromes can be modulated by the protonation/deprotonation of neighbor groups (redox-Bohr effect), a mechanism that permits the proteins to couple electron/proton transfer. In the respiratory chains, this effect is particularly relevant if observed in the physiological pH range, as it may contribute to the electrochemical gradient for ATP synthesis. A constitutively produced family of five triheme cytochromes (PpcA−E) from the bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens plays a crucial role in extracellular electron transfer, a hallmark that permits this bacterium to be explored for several biotechnological applications. Two members of this family (PpcA and PpcD) couple electron/proton transfer in the physiological pH range, a feature not shared with PpcB and PpcE. That ability is crucial for G. sulfurreducens’ growth in Fe(III)-reducing habitats since extra contributors to the electrochemical gradient are needed. It was postulated that the redox-Bohr effect is determined by the nature of residue 6, a leucine in PpcA/PpcD and a phenylalanine in PpcB/PpcE. To confirm this hypothesis, Phe6 was replaced by leucine in PpcB and PpcE. The functional properties of these mutants were investigated by NMR and UV–visible spectroscopy to assess their capability to couple electron/proton transfer in the physiological pH range. The results obtained showed that the mutants have an increased redox-Bohr effect and are now capable of coupling electron/proton transfer. This confirms the determinant role of the nature of residue 6 in the modulation of the redox-Bohr effect in this family of cytochromes, opening routes to engineer Geobacter cells with improved biomass production.}

Silva, MA, Salgueiro CA.  2021.  Multistep Signaling in Nature: A Close-Up of Geobacter Chemotaxis Sensing. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 22, Number 16 AbstractWebsite

Environmental changes trigger the continuous adaptation of bacteria to ensure their survival. This is possible through a variety of signal transduction pathways involving chemoreceptors known as methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins (MCP) that allow the microorganisms to redirect their mobility towards favorable environments. MCP are two-component regulatory (or signal transduction) systems (TCS) formed by a sensor and a response regulator domain. These domains synchronize transient protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation events to convert the stimuli into an appropriate cellular response. In this review, the variability of TCS domains and the most common signaling mechanisms are highlighted. This is followed by the description of the overall cellular topology, classification and mechanisms of MCP. Finally, the structural and functional properties of a new family of MCP found in Geobacter sulfurreducens are revisited. This bacterium has a diverse repertoire of chemosensory systems, which represents a striking example of a survival mechanism in challenging environments. Two G. sulfurreducens MCP—GSU0582 and GSU0935—are members of a new family of chemotaxis sensor proteins containing a periplasmic PAS-like sensor domain with a c-type heme. Interestingly, the cellular location of this domain opens new routes to the understanding of the redox potential sensing signaling transduction pathways.

Fernandes, TM, Morgado L, Turner DL, Salgueiro CA.  2021.  Protein Engineering of Electron Transfer Components from Electroactive Geobacter Bacteria. Antioxidants. 10, Number 6 AbstractWebsite

Electrogenic microorganisms possess unique redox biological features, being capable of transferring electrons to the cell exterior and converting highly toxic compounds into nonhazardous forms. These microorganisms have led to the development of Microbial Electrochemical Technologies (METs), which include applications in the fields of bioremediation and bioenergy production. The optimization of these technologies involves efforts from several different disciplines, ranging from microbiology to materials science. Geobacter bacteria have served as a model for understanding the mechanisms underlying the phenomenon of extracellular electron transfer, which is highly dependent on a multitude of multiheme cytochromes (MCs). MCs are, therefore, logical targets for rational protein engineering to improve the extracellular electron transfer rates of these bacteria. However, the presence of several heme groups complicates the detailed redox characterization of MCs. In this Review, the main characteristics of electroactive Geobacter bacteria, their potential to develop microbial electrochemical technologies and the main features of MCs are initially highlighted. This is followed by a detailed description of the current methodologies that assist the characterization of the functional redox networks in MCs. Finally, it is discussed how this information can be explored to design optimal Geobacter-mutated strains with improved capabilities in METs.

Fernandes, TM, Folgosa F, Teixeira M, Salgueiro CA, Morgado L.  2021.  Structural and functional insights of GSU0105, a unique multiheme cytochrome from G. sulfurreducens. Biophysical Journal. AbstractWebsite

Geobacter sulfurreducens possesses over 100 cytochromes that assure an effective electron transfer to the cell exterior. The most abundant group of cytochromes in this microorganism is the PpcA family, composed of five periplasmic triheme cytochromes with high structural homology and identical heme coordination (His-His). GSU0105 is a periplasmic triheme cytochrome synthetized by G. sulfurreducens in Fe(III)-reducing conditions but is not present in cultures grown on fumarate. This cytochrome has a low sequence identity with the PpcA family cytochromes and a different heme coordination, based on the analysis of its amino acid sequence. In this work, amino acid sequence analysis, site-directed mutagenesis, and complementary biophysical techniques, including ultraviolet-visible, circular dichroism, electron paramagnetic resonance, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopies, were used to characterize GSU0105. The cytochrome has a low percentage of secondary structural elements, with features of α-helices and β-sheets. Nuclear magnetic resonance shows that the protein contains three low-spin hemes (Fe(II), S = 0) in the reduced state. Electron paramagnetic resonance shows that, in the oxidized state, one of the hemes becomes high-spin (Fe(III), S = 5/2), whereas the two others remain low-spin (Fe(III), S = 1/2). The data obtained also indicate that the heme groups have distinct axial coordination. The apparent midpoint reduction potential of GSU0105 (−154 mV) is pH independent in the physiological range. However, the pH modulates the reduction potential of the heme that undergoes the low- to high-spin interconversion. The reduction potential values of cytochrome GSU0105 are more distinct compared to those of the PpcA family members, providing the protein with a larger functional working redox potential range. Overall, the results obtained, together with an amino acid sequence analysis of different multiheme cytochrome families, indicate that GSU0105 is a member of a new group of triheme cytochromes.

Portela, PC, Silva MA, Teixeira LR, Salgueiro CA.  2021.  A unique aromatic residue modulates the redox range of a periplasmic multiheme cytochrome from Geobacter metallireducens. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 296:100711. AbstractWebsite

Geobacter bacteria are able to transfer electrons to the exterior of the cell and reduce extracellular electron acceptors including toxic/radioactive metals and electrode surfaces, with potential applications in bioremediation or electricity harvesting. The triheme c-type cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter metallireducens plays a crucial role in bridging the electron transfer from the inner to the outer membrane, ensuring an effective extracellular electron transfer. This cytochrome shares 80% identity with PpcA from Geobacter sulfurreducens, but their redox properties are markedly different, thus determining the distinctive working redox potential ranges in the two bacteria. PpcA from G. metallireducens possesses two extra aromatic amino acids (Phe-6 and Trp-45) in its hydrophobic heme core, whereas PpcA from G. sulfurreducens has a leucine and a methionine in the equivalent positions. Given the different nature of these residues in the two cytochromes, we have hypothesized that the extra aromatic amino acids could be partially responsible for the observed functional differences. In this work, we have replaced Phe-6 and Trp-45 residues by their nonaromatic counterparts in PpcA from G. sulfurreducens. Using redox titrations followed by UV–visible and NMR spectroscopy we observed that residue Trp-45 shifted the redox potential range 33% toward that of PpcA from G. sulfurreducens, whereas Phe-6 produced a negligible effect. For the first time, it is shown that the inclusion of an aromatic residue at the heme core can modulate the working redox range in abundant periplasmic proteins, paving the way to engineer bacterial strains for optimal microbial bioelectrochemical applications.

Portela, PC, Dantas JM, Salgueiro CA.  2020.  Backbone, side chain and heme resonance assignment of the triheme cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter metallireducens in the oxidized state, 2020. Biomol NMR Assign. 14(1):31-36. AbstractWebsite

The bacterium Geobacter metallireducens is capable of transferring electrons to the cell exterior, a process designated extracellular electron transfer. This mechanism allows the microorganism to reduce extracellular acceptors such as Fe(III) (hydr)oxides and water toxic and/or radioactive contaminants including Cr(VI) and U(VI). It is also capable of oxidizing waste water aromatic organic compounds being an important microorganism for bioremediation of polluted waters. Extracellular electron transfer also allows electricity harvesting from microbial fuel cells, a promising sustainable form of energy production. However, extracellular electron transfer processes in this microorganism are still poorly characterized. The triheme c-type cytochrome PpcA from G. metallireducens is abundant in the periplasm and is crucial for electron transfer between the cytoplasm and the cell’s exterior. In this work, we report near complete assignment of backbone, side chain and heme resonances for PpcA in the oxidized state that will permit its structure determination and identification of interactions with physiological redox partners.

Chabert, V, Babel L, Füeg MP, Karamash M, Madivoli ES, Herault N, Dantas JM, Salgueiro CA, Giese B, Fromm KM.  2020.  Kinetics and Mechanism of Mineral Respiration: How Iron Hemes Synchronize Electron Transfer Rates. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 59:12331-12336., Number 30 AbstractWebsite

Abstract Anaerobic microorganisms of the Geobacter genus are effective electron sources for the synthesis of nanoparticles, for bioremediation of polluted water, and for the production of electricity in fuel cells. In multistep reactions, electrons are transferred via iron/heme cofactors of c-type cytochromes from the inner cell membrane to extracellular metal ions, which are bound to outer membrane cytochromes. We measured electron production and electron flux rates to 5×105 e s−1 per G. sulfurreducens. Remarkably, these rates are independent of the oxidants, and follow zero order kinetics. It turned out that the microorganisms regulate electron flux rates by increasing their Fe2+/Fe3+ ratios in the multiheme cytochromes whenever the activity of the extracellular metal oxidants is diminished. By this mechanism the respiration remains constant even when oxidizing conditions are changing. This homeostasis is a vital condition for living systems, and makes G. sulfurreducens a versatile electron source.

Teixeira, LR, Cordas CM, Fonseca MP, Duke NEC, Pokkuluri PR, Salgueiro CA.  2020.  Modulation of the Redox Potential and Electron/Proton Transfer Mechanisms in the Outer Membrane Cytochrome OmcF From Geobacter sulfurreducens. Frontiers in Microbiology. 10:2941. AbstractWebsite

The monoheme outer membrane cytochrome F (OmcF) from Geobacter sulfurreducens plays an important role in Fe(III) reduction and electric current production. The electrochemical characterization of this cytochrome has shown that its redox potential is modulated by the solution pH (redox-Bohr effect) endowing the protein with the necessary properties to couple electron and proton transfer in the physiological range. The analysis of the OmcF structures in the reduced and oxidized states showed that with the exception of the side chain of histidine 47 (His47), all other residues with protonatable side chains are distant from the heme iron and, therefore, are unlikely to affect the redox potential of the protein. The protonatable site at the imidazole ring of His47 is in the close proximity to the heme and, therefore, this residue was suggested as the redox-Bohr center. In the present work, we tested this hypothesis by replacing the His47 with non-protonatable residues (isoleucine – OmcFH47I and phenylalanine – OmcFH47F). The structure of the mutant OmcFH47I was determined by X-ray crystallography to 1.13 Å resolution and showed only minimal changes at the site of the mutation. Both mutants were 15N-labeled and their overall folding was confirmed to be the same as the wild-type by NMR spectroscopy. The pH dependence of the redox potential of the mutants was measured by cyclic voltammetry. Compared to the wild-type protein, the magnitude of the redox-Bohr effect in the mutants was smaller, but not fully abolished, confirming the role of His47 on the pH modulation of OmcF’s redox potential. However, the pH effect on the heme substituents’ NMR chemical shifts suggested that the heme propionate P13 also contributes to the overall redox-Bohr effect in OmcF. In physiological terms, the contribution of two independent acid–base centers to the observed redox-Bohr effect confers OmcF a higher versatility to environmental changes by coupling electron/proton transfer within a wider pH range.

Ferreira, MR, Fernandes TM, Salgueiro CA.  2020.  Thermodynamic properties of triheme cytochrome PpcF from Geobacter metallireducens reveal unprecedented functional mechanism. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics. 1861:148271., Number 11 AbstractWebsite

The bacterium Geobacter metallireducens is highly efficient in long-range extracellular electron transfer, a process that relies on an efficient bridging between the cytoplasmic electron donors and the extracellular acceptors. The periplasmic triheme cytochromes are crucial players in these processes and thus the understanding of their functional mechanism is crucial to elucidate the extracellular electron transfer processes in this microorganism. The triheme cytochrome PpcF from G. metallireducens has the lowest amino acid sequence identity with the remaining cytochromes from the PpcA-family of G. sulfurreducens and G. metallireducens, making it an interesting target for structural and functional studies. In this work, we performed a detailed functional and thermodynamic characterization of cytochrome PpcF by the complementary usage of NMR and visible spectroscopic techniques. The results obtained show that the heme reduction potentials are negative, different from each other and are also modulated by the redox and redox-Bohr interactions that assure unprecedented mechanistic features to the protein. The results showed that the order of oxidation of the hemes in cytochrome PpcF is maintained in the entire physiological pH range. The considerable separation of the hemes' redox potential values facilitates a sequential transfer within the chain of redox centers in PpcF, thus assuring electron transfer directionality to the electron acceptors.

Teixeira, LR, Portela PC, Morgado L, Pantoja-Uceda D, Bruix M, Salgueiro CA.  2019.  Backbone assignment of cytochrome PccH, a crucial protein for microbial electrosynthesis in Geobacter sulfurreducens, 2019. Biomol NMR Assign. 13(2):321-326. AbstractWebsite

Microbial electrosynthesis is an emerging green technology that explores the capability of a particular group of microorganisms to drive their metabolism toward the production of hydrogen or value-added chemicals from electrons supplied by electrode surfaces. The cytochrome PccH showed the largest increase in transcription when electrons are supplied to Geobacter sulfurreducens biofilms. Gene knock-out experiments have shown that the electron transfer toward G. sulfurreducens cells was completely inhibited by the deletion of the gene encoding for cytochrome PccH. This identifies a crucial role for this protein in G. sulfurreducens microbial electrosynthesis mechanisms, which are currently unknown. In this work, we present the backbone (1H, 13C and 15N) and heme assignment for PccH in the oxidized state. The data obtained paves the way to identify and structurally map the molecular interaction regions between the cytochrome PccH and its physiological redox partners.

Fernandes, TM, Morgado L, Salgueiro CA, Turner DL.  2019.  Determination of the magnetic properties and orientation of the heme axial ligands of PpcA from G. metallireducens by paramagnetic NMR. Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry. 198:110718. AbstractWebsite

The rising interest in the use of Geobacter bacteria for biotechnological applications demands a deep understanding of how these bacteria are able to thrive in a variety of environments and perform extracellular electron transfer. The Geobacter metallireducens bacterium can couple the oxidation of a wide range of compounds to the reduction of several extracellular acceptors, including heavy metals, toxic organic compounds or electrode surfaces. The periplasmic c-type cytochrome PpcA from this bacterium is a member of a family composed of five periplasmic triheme cytochromes, which are important to bridge the electron transfer between the cytoplasm and the extracellular environment. To better understand the functional mechanism of PpcA it is essential to obtain structural data for this cytochrome. In this work, the geometry of the heme axial ligands, as well as the magnetic properties of the hemes were determined for the oxidized form of the cytochrome, using the 13C NMR chemical shifts of the heme α-substituents. The results were further compared with those previously obtained for the homologous cytochrome from Geobacter sulfurreducens. The orientations of the axial histidine planes and the magnetic properties of the hemes are conserved in both proteins. Overall, the results obtained allowed the definition of the orientation of the magnetic axes of PpcA from G. metallireducens, which will be used as constraints to assist the solution structure determination of the cytochrome in the oxidized form.

Salgueiro, CA, Dantas JM, Morgado L.  2019.  Principles of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Selected Biological Applications. Radiation in Bioanalysis: Spectroscopic Techniques and Theoretical Methods. (Pereira, Alice S., Tavares, Pedro, Limão-Vieira, Paulo, Eds.).:245–286., Cham: Springer International Publishing Abstract

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is extremely powerful to study distinct biological systems ranging from biomolecules to specific metabolites. This chapter presents the basic concepts of the technique and illustrates its potential to study such systems. Similarly, to other spectroscopic techniques, the theoretical background of NMR is sustained by detailed mathematics and physical chemistry concepts, which were kept to the minimum. The intent is to introduce the fundamentals of the technique to science students from different backgrounds. The basic concepts of NMR spectroscopy are briefly presented in the first section, and the following sections describe applications in the biosciences field, using electron transfer proteins as model, particularly cytochromes. The heme groups endow cytochromes with particular features making them excellent examples to illustrate the high versatility of NMR spectroscopy. The main methodologies underlying protein solution structure determination are discussed in the second section. This is followed by a description of the main experiments explored to structurally map protein-protein or protein-ligand interface regions in molecular complexes. Finally, it is shown how NMR spectroscopy can assist in the functional characterization of multiheme cytochromes.

Dantas, JM, Portela PC, Fernandes AP, Londer YY, Yang X, Duke NEC, Schiffer M, Pokkuluri RP, Salgueiro CA.  2019.  Structural and Functional Relevance of the Conserved Residue V13 in the Triheme Cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter sulfurreducens. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 123:3050-3060., Number 14 AbstractWebsite

The triheme cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter sulfurreducens is highly abundant under several growth conditions and is important for extracellular electron transfer. PpcA plays a central role in transferring electrons resulting from the cytoplasmic oxidation of carbon compounds to the cell exterior. This cytochrome is designed to couple electron and proton transfer at physiological pH, a process achieved via the selection of dominant microstates during the redox cycle of the protein, which are ultimately regulated by a well-established order of oxidation of the heme groups. The three hemes are covered only by a polypeptide chain of 71 residues and are located in the small hydrophobic core of the protein. In this work, we used NMR and X-ray crystallography to investigate the structural and functional role of a conserved valine residue (V13) located within van der Waals contact of hemes III and IV. The residue was replaced by alanine (V13A), isoleucine (V13I), serine (V13S), and threonine (V13T) to probe the effects of the side chain volume and polarity. All mutants were found to be as equally thermally stable as the native protein. The V13A and V13T mutants produced crystals and their structures were determined. The side chain of the threonine residue introduced in V13T showed two conformations, but otherwise the two structures did not show significant changes from the native structure. Analysis of the redox behavior of the four mutants showed that for the hydrophobic replacements (V13A and V13I) the redox properties, and hence the order of oxidation of the hemes, were unaffected in spite of the larger side chain, isoleucine, showing two conformations with minor changes of the protein in the heme core. On the other hand, the polar replacements (V13S and V13T) showed the presence of two more distinctive conformations, and the oxidation order of the hemes was altered. Overall, it is striking that a single residue with proper size and polarity, V13, was naturally selected to ensure a unique conformation of the protein and the order of oxidation of the hemes, endowing the cytochrome PpcA with the optimal functional properties necessary to ensure effectiveness in the extracellular electron transfer respiratory pathways of G. sulfurreducens.

Teixeira, LR, Dantas JM, Salgueiro CA, Cordas CM.  2018.  Thermodynamic and kinetic properties of the outer membrane cytochrome OmcF, a key protein for extracellular electron transfer in Geobacter sulfurreducens. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics. 1859(10):1132-1137. AbstractWebsite

Gene knock-out studies on Geobacter sulfurreducens have shown that the monoheme c-type cytochrome OmcF is essential for the extracellular electron transfer pathways involved in the reduction of iron and uranium oxy-hydroxides, as well as, on electricity production in microbial fuel cells. A detailed electrochemical characterization of OmcF was performed for the first time, allowing attaining kinetics and thermodynamic data. The heterogeneous electron transfer rate constant was determined at pH 7 (0.16 ± 0.01 cm s−1) indicating that the protein displays high electron transfer efficiency compared to other monoheme cytochromes. The pH dependence of the redox potential indicates that the protein has an important redox-Bohr effect in the physiological pH range for G. sulfurreducens growth. The analysis of the structures of OmcF allowed us to assign the redox-Bohr centre to the side chain of His47 residue and its pKa values in the reduced and oxidized states were determined (pKox = 6.73; pKred = 7.55). The enthalpy, entropy and Gibbs free energy associated with the redox transaction were calculated, pointing the reduced form of the cytochrome as the most favourable. The data obtained indicate that G. sulfurreducens cells evolved to warrant a down-hill electron transfer from the periplasm to the outer-membrane associated cytochrome OmcF.

Ferreira, MR, Dantas JM, Salgueiro CA.  2018.  The triheme cytochrome PpcF from Geobacter metallireducens exhibits distinct redox properties. FEBS Open Bio. , Number ja AbstractWebsite

Abstract Electrogenic bacteria, such as Geobacter, can couple the oxidation of carbon sources to the reduction of extracellular electron acceptors; such acceptors include toxic and radioactive metals, as well as electrode surfaces, making Geobacter a suitable candidate for applied use in bioremediation and bioenergy generation. Geobacter metallireducens is more promising in this regard than the better studied Geobacter sulfurreducens, as it has more efficient Fe (III) reduction rates and can respire nitrate to ammonia. The operon responsible for nitrate reductase activity in G. metallireducens includes the gene encoding the cytochrome PpcF, which was proposed to exchange electrons with nitrate reductase. In the present work, we perform a biochemical and biophysical characterization of PpcF. Spectroscopic techniques, including circular dichroism (CD), UV-visible, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) revealed that the cytochrome is very stable (Tm > 85 °C), contains three low-spin hemes, and is diamagnetic (S=0) and paramagnetic (S=1/2) in the reduced and oxidized states, respectively. The NMR chemical shifts of the heme substituents were assigned and used to determine the heme core architecture of PpcF. Compared to the PpcA-family from G. sulfurreducens, the spatial disposition of the hemes is conserved, but the functional properties are clearly distinct. In fact, potentiometric titrations monitored by UV-visible absorption reveal that the reduction potential values of PpcF are significantly less negative (-56 and -64 mV, versus the normal hydrogen electrode at pH 7.0 and 8.0, respectively). NMR redox titrations showed that the order of oxidation of the hemes is IV-I-III a feature not observed for G. sulfurreducens. The different redox properties displayed by PpcF, including the small redox-Bohr effect and low reduction potential value of heme IV, were structurally rationalized and attributed to the lower number of positively charged residues located in the vicinity of heme IV. Overall, the redox features of PpcF suggest that biotechnological applications of G. metallireducens may require less negative working functional redox windows than those using by G. sulfurreducens.

Portela, PC, Fernandes TM, Dantas JM, Ferreira MR, Salgueiro CA.  2018.  Biochemical and functional insights on the triheme cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter metallireducens. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. 644:8-16. AbstractWebsite

G. metallireducens bacterium has highly versatile respiratory pathways that provide the microorganism an enormous potential for many biotechnological applications. However, little is known about the structural and functional properties of its electron transfer components. In this work, the periplasmic cytochrome PpcA from G. metallireducens was studied in detail for the first time using complementary biophysical techniques, including UV–visible, CD and NMR spectroscopy. The results obtained showed that PpcA contains three low-spin c-type heme groups with His-His axial coordination, a feature also observed for its homologue in G. sulfurreducens. However, despite the high sequence homology between the two cytochromes, important structural and functional differences were observed. The comparative analysis of the backbone, side chain and heme substituents NMR signals revealed differences in the relative orientation of the hemes I and III. In addition, redox titrations followed by visible spectroscopy showed that the redox potential values for PpcA from G. metallireducens (−78 and −93 mV at pH 7 and 8, respectively) are considerably less negative. Overall, this study provides biochemical and biophysical data of a key cytochrome from G. metallireducens, paving the way to understand the extracellular electron transfer mechanisms in these bacteria.

Ferreira, MR, Salgueiro CA.  2018.  Biomolecular Interaction Studies Between Cytochrome PpcA From Geobacter sulfurreducens and the Electron Acceptor Ferric Nitrilotriacetate (Fe-NTA). Frontiers in Microbiology. 9:2741. AbstractWebsite

Geobacter sulfurreducens is a dissimilatory metal-reducing bacterium that exhibits an enormous respiratory versatility, including the utilization of several toxic and radioactive metals as electron acceptors. This versatility is also replicated in the capability of the most abundant cytochrome in G. sulfurreducens, the periplasmic triheme cytochrome PpcA, to reduce uranium, chromium and other metal ions. From all possible electron transfer pathways in G. sulfurreducens, those involved in the iron reduction are the best characterized to date. In a previous work we provided structural evidence for the complex interface established between PpcA and the electron acceptor Fe(III)-citrate. However, genetic studies suggested that this acceptor is mainly reduced by outer membrane cytochomes. In the present work, we used UV-visible measurements to demonstrate that PpcA is able to directly reduce the electron acceptor ferric nitrilotriacetic acid (Fe-NTA), a more outer membrane permeable iron chelated form. In addition, the molecular interactions between PpcA and Fe-NTA were probed by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. The NMR spectra obtained for natural abundance and 15N-enriched PpcA samples in the absence and presence of Fe-NTA showed that the interaction is reversible and encompasses a positively charged surface region located in the vicinity of the heme IV. Overall, the study provides for the first time a clear illustration of the formation of an electron transfer complex between PpcA and a readily outer-membrane permeable iron chelated form. The structural and functional relationships obtained explain how a single cytochrome is designed to effectively interact with a wide range of G. sulfurreducens electron acceptors, a feature that can be explored for optimal bioelectrochemical applications.

Dantas, JM, Ferreira MR, Catarino T, Kokhan O, Pokkuluri RP, Salgueiro CA.  2018.  Molecular interactions between Geobacter sulfurreducens triheme cytochromes and the redox active analogue for humic substances. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics. 1859:619-630., Number 8 AbstractWebsite

The bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens can transfer electrons to quinone moieties of humic substances or to anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate (AQDS), a model for the humic acids. The reduced form of AQDS (AH2QDS) can also be used as energy source by G. sulfurreducens. Such bidirectional utilization of humic substances confers competitive advantages to these bacteria in Fe(III) enriched environments. Previous studies have shown that the triheme cytochrome PpcA from G. sulfurreducens has a bifunctional behavior toward the humic substance analogue. It can reduce AQDS but the protein can also be reduced by AH2QDS. Using stopped-flow kinetic measurements we were able to demonstrate that other periplasmic members of the PpcA-family in G. sulfurreducens (PpcB, PpcD and PpcE) also showed the same behavior. The extent of the electron transfer is thermodynamically controlled favoring the reduction of the cytochromes. NMR spectra recorded for 13C,15N-enriched samples in the presence increasing amounts of AQDS showed perturbations in the chemical shift signals of the cytochromes. The chemical shift perturbations on cytochromes backbone NH and 1H heme methyl signals were used to map their interaction regions with AQDS, showing that each protein forms a low-affinity binding complex through well-defined positive surface regions in the vicinity of heme IV (PpcB, PpcD and PpcE) and I (PpcE). Docking calculations performed using NMR chemical shift perturbations allowed modeling the interactions between AQDS and each cytochrome at a molecular level. Overall, the results obtained provided important structural-functional relationships to rationalize the microbial respiration of humic substances in G. sulfurreducens.