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Fernandes, TM, Morgado L, Salgueiro CA.  2018.  Thermodynamic and functional characterization of the periplasmic triheme cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter metallireducens. Biochemical Journal. : Portland Press Limited AbstractWebsite

The Geobacter metallireducens bacterium can couple the oxidation of a wide range of compounds to the reduction of several extracellular electron acceptors, including pollutants or electrode surfaces for current production in microbial fuel cells. For these reasons, G. metallireducens are of interest for practical biotechnological applications. The use of such electron acceptors relies on a mechanism that permits electrons to be transferred to the cell exterior. The cytochrome PpcA from G. metallireducens is a member of a family composed by five periplasmic triheme cytochromes, which are important to bridge the electron transfer from the cytoplasmic donors to the extracellular acceptors. Using NMR and visible spectroscopic techniques, a detailed thermodynamic characterization of PpcA was obtained, including the determination of the heme reduction potentials and their redox and redox-Bohr interactions. These parameters revealed unique features for PpcA from G. metallireducens compared to other triheme cytochromes from different microorganisms, namely the less negative heme reduction potentials and concomitant functional working potential ranges. It was also shown that the order of oxidation of the hemes is pH independent, but the protein is designed to couple e-/H+ transfer exclusively at physiological pH.

Silveira, CM, Castro MA, Dantas JM, Salgueiro C, Murgida DH, Todorovic S.  2017.  Structure, electrocatalysis and dynamics of immobilized cytochrome PccH and its microperoxidase, 2017. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. 19(13):8908-8918.: The Royal Society of Chemistry AbstractWebsite

Geobacter sulfurreducens cells have the ability to exchange electrons with conductive materials, and the periplasmic cytochrome PccH plays an essential role in the direct electrode-to-cell electron transfer in this bacterium. It has atypically low redox potential and unique structural features that differ from those observed in other c-type cytochromes. We report surface enhanced resonance Raman spectroscopic and electrochemical characterization of the immobilized PccH, together with molecular dynamics simulations that allow for the rationalization of experimental observations. Upon attachment to electrodes functionalized with partially or fully hydrophobic self-assembled monolayers, PccH displays a distribution of native and non-native heme spin configurations, similar to those observed in horse heart cytochrome c. The native structural and thermodynamic features of PccH are preserved upon attachment mixed hydrophobic (-CH3/-NH2) surfaces, while pure -OH, -NH2 and -COOH surfaces do not provide suitable platforms for its adsorption, indicating that its still unknown physiological redox partner might be membrane integrated. Neither of the employed immobilization strategies results in electrocatalytically active PccH capable of the reduction of hydrogen peroxide. Pseudoperoxidase activity is observed in immobilized microperoxidase, which is enzymatically produced from PccH and spectroscopically characterized. Further improvement of PccH microperoxidase stability is required for its application in electrochemical biosensing of hydrogen peroxide.

Marques, AC, Santos L, Dantas JM, Gonçalves A, Casaleiro S, Martins R, Salgueiro CA, Fortunato E.  2017.  Advances in electrochemically active bacteria: Physiology and ecology. Handbook of Online and Near-real-time Methods in Microbiology. : CRC Press Abstract

The discovery of microorganisms with the ability of Extracellular Electron Transfer (EET), nearly three decades ago, sparked interest due to their ability to be used in diverse applications that can range from bioremediation to electricity production in Microbial Fuel Cells (MFC). Microbial respiration is based on electron transfer from a donor to an electron acceptor, through a series of stepwise electron transfer events that generate the necessary metabolic energy. Some microorganisms, such as Pseudomonas species, Shewanella putrefaciens or Geothrix fermentans are able to produce electrochemical mediators to increase the EET. The mechanical stability of the biofilm is provided by the biofilm matrix, a hydrated extracellular polymeric matrix that encases the biofilm cells. The biofilm matrix could potentially offer a resistance pathway to EET unless bacteria develop strategies to increase its conductivity. MFC devices currently being used and studied do not generate sufficient power to support widespread and cost-effective applications.

Dantas, JM, Brausemann A, Einsle O, Salgueiro CA.  2017.  NMR studies of the interaction between inner membrane-associated and periplasmic cytochromes from Geobacter sulfurreducens. FEBS Letters. 591:1657–1666. AbstractWebsite

Geobacter sulfurreducens is a dissimilatory metal reducing bacterium with notable properties and significance in biotechnological applications. Biochemical studies suggest that the inner membrane-associated diheme cytochrome MacA and the periplasmic triheme cytochrome PpcA from G. sulfurreducens can exchange electrons. In this work, NMR chemical shift perturbation measurements were used to map the interface region and to measure the binding affinity between PpcA and MacA. The results show that MacA binds to PpcA in a cleft defined by hemes I and IV, favoring the contact between PpcA heme IV and the MacA high potential heme. The dissociation constant values indicate the formation of a low affinity complex between the proteins, which is consistent with the transient interaction observed in electron transfer complexes.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Dantas, JM, Silva MA, Pantoja-Uceda D, Turner DL, Bruix M, Salgueiro CA.  2017.  Solution structure and dynamics of the outer membrane cytochrome OmcF from Geobacter sulfurreducens. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics. 1858(9):733-741. AbstractWebsite

ABSTRACTGene knock-out studies on Geobacter sulfurreducens cells showed that the outer membrane-associated monoheme cytochrome OmcF is involved in respiratory pathways leading to the extracellular reduction of Fe(III) and U(VI). In addition, microarray analysis of an OmcF-deficient mutant revealed that many of the genes with decreased transcript level were those whose expression is up-regulated in cells grown with a graphite electrode as electron acceptor, suggesting that OmcF also regulates the electron transfer to electrode surfaces and the concomitant electricity production by G. sulfurreducens in microbial fuel cells. 15N,13C–labeled OmcF was produced and NMR spectroscopy was used to determine the solution structure of the protein in the fully reduced state and the pH-dependent conformational changes. In addition, 15N relaxation NMR experiments were used to characterize the overall and internal backbone dynamics of OmcF. The structure obtained is well defined, with an average pairwise root mean square deviation of 0.37 Å for the backbone atoms and 0.98 Å for all heavy atoms. For the first time a solution structure and the protein motions were determined for an outer membrane cytochrome from G. sulfurreducens, which constitutes an important step to understand the extracellular electron transfer mechanism in Geobacter cells.

Fernandes, AP, Nunes TC, Paquete CM, Salgueiro CA.  2017.  Interaction studies between periplasmic cytochromes provide insights into extracellular electron transfer pathways of Geobacter sulfurreducens. Biochemical Journal. 474:797–808., Number 5: Portland Press Limited AbstractWebsite

Accepted Manuscript online January 16, 2017.Geobacter bacteria usually prevail among other microorganisms in soils and sediments where Fe(III) reduction has a central role. This reduction is achieved by extracellular electron transfer (EET), where the electrons are exported from the interior of the cell to the surrounding environment. Periplasmic cytochromes play an important role in establishing an interface between inner and outer membrane electron transfer components. In addition, periplasmic cytochromes, in particular nanowire cytochromes that contain at least 12 haem groups, have been proposed to play a role in electron storage in conditions of an environmental lack of electron acceptors. Up to date, no redox partners have been identified in Geobacter sulfurreducens, and concomitantly, the EET and electron storage mechanisms remain unclear. In this work, NMR chemical shift perturbation measurements were used to probe for an interaction between the most abundant periplasmic cytochrome PpcA and the dodecahaem cytochrome GSU1996, one of the proposed nanowire cytochromes in G. sulfurreducens. The perturbations on the haem methyl signals of GSU1996 and PpcA showed that the proteins form a transient redox complex in an interface that involves haem groups from two different domains located at the C-terminal of GSU1996. Overall, the present study provides for the first time a clear evidence for an interaction between periplasmic cytochromes that might be relevant for the EET and electron storage pathways in G. sulfurreducens.1D, one-dimensional; CbcL, c- and b-type cytochrome for low potential; EET, extracellular electron transfer; HP, His-patch; ImcH, inner membrane c-type cytochrome; MacA, metal-reduction-associated cytochrome; NaPi, sodium phosphate; NBAF, acetate-fumarate medium; NMR, nuclear magnetic resonance; PpcA, periplasmic c-type cytochrome; SDS–PAGE, sodium dodecyl sulphate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; STC, small tetrahaem cytochrome.

Ferreira, MR, Dantas JM, Salgueiro CA.  2017.  Molecular interactions between Geobacter sulfurreducens triheme cytochromes and the electron acceptor Fe(iii) citrate studied by NMR. Dalton Trans.. 46:2350-2359.: The Royal Society of Chemistry AbstractWebsite

Proteomic and genetic studies have identified a family of five triheme cytochromes (PpcA-E) that are essential in the iron respiratory pathways of Geobacter sulfurreducens. These include the reduction of Fe(iii) soluble chelated forms or Fe(iii) oxides{,} which can be used as terminal acceptors by G. sulfurreducens. The relevance of these cytochromes in the respiratory pathways of soluble or insoluble forms of iron is quite distinct. In fact{,} while PpcD had a higher abundance in the Fe(iii) oxides supplanted G. sulfurreducens cultures{,} PpcA{,} PpcB and PpcE were important in Fe(iii) citrate supplanted cultures. Based on these observations we probed the molecular interactions between these cytochromes and Fe(iii) citrate by NMR spectroscopy. NMR spectra were recorded for natural abundance and 15N-enriched PpcA{,} PpcB or PpcE samples at increasing amounts of Fe(iii) citrate. The addition of this molecule caused pronounced perturbations on the line width of the protein{'}s NMR signals{,} which were used to map the interaction region between each cytochrome and the Fe(iii) citrate molecule. The perturbations on the NMR signals corresponding to the backbone NH and heme methyl substituents showed that complex interfaces consist of a well-defined patch{,} which surrounds the more solvent-exposed heme IV methyl groups in each cytochrome. Overall{,} this study provides for the first time a clear illustration of the formation of an electron transfer complex between Fe(iii) citrate and G. sulfurreducens triheme cytochromes{,} shown to be crucial in this respiratory pathway.

Morgado, L, Bruix M, Pokkuluri RP, Salgueiro CA, Turner DL.  2017.  Redox- and pH-linked conformational changes in triheme cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter sulfurreducens. Biochemical Journal. 474:231–246., Number 2: Portland Press Limited AbstractWebsite

Accepted Manuscript online November 14, 2016.The periplasmic triheme cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter sulfurreducens is highly abundant; it is the likely reservoir of electrons to the outer surface to assist the reduction of extracellular terminal acceptors; these include insoluble metal oxides in natural habitats and electrode surfaces from which electricity can be harvested. A detailed thermodynamic characterization of PpcA showed that it has an important redox-Bohr effect that might implicate the protein in e-/H+ coupling mechanisms to sustain cellular growth. This functional mechanism requires control of both the redox state and the protonation state. In the present study, isotope-labeled PpcA was produced and the three-dimensional structure of PpcA in the oxidized form was determined by NMR. This is the first solution structure of a G. sulfurreducens cytochrome in the oxidized state. The comparison of oxidized and reduced structures revealed that the heme I axial ligand geometry changed and there were other significant changes in the segments near heme I. The pH-linked conformational rearrangements observed in the vicinity of the redox-Bohr center, both in the oxidized and reduced structures, constitute the structural basis for the differences observed in the pKa values of the redox-Bohr center, providing insights into the e-/H+ coupling molecular mechanisms driven by PpcA in G. sulfurreducens.EET, extracellular electron transfer; IM, inner membrane; IPTG, isopropyl β-d-thiogalactoside; MFCs, microbial fuel cells; NOE, Nuclear Overhauser effect; OM, outer membrane; rmsd, root mean square deviation.

Salgueiro, CA, Dantas JM.  2016.  Multiheme Cytochromes. Multiheme Cytochromes. :1–39., Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg Abstract


Alves, MN, Fernandes AP, Salgueiro CA, Paquete CM.  2016.  Unraveling the electron transfer processes of a nanowire protein from Geobacter sulfurreducens. BBA - Bioenergetics. 1857(1):7-13. AbstractWebsite

The extracellular electron transfer metabolism of Geobacter sulfurreducens is sustained by several multiheme c-type cytochromes. One of these is the dodecaheme cytochrome GSU1996 that belongs to a new sub-class of c-type cytochromes. GSU1996 is composed by four similar triheme domains (A-D). The C-terminal half of the molecule encompasses the domains C and D, which are connected by a small linker and the N-terminal half of the protein contains two domains (A and B) that form one structural unit. It was proposed that this protein works as an electrically conductive device in Geobacter sulfurreducens, transferring electrons within the periplasm or to outer-membrane cytochromes. In this work, a novel strategy was applied to characterize in detail the thermodynamic and kinetic properties of the hexaheme fragment CD of GSU1996. This characterization revealed the electron transfer process of GSU1996 for the first time, showing that a heme at the edge of the C-terminal of the protein is thermodynamic and kinetically competent to receive electrons from physiological redox partners. This information contributes towards understanding how this new sub-class of cytochromes functions as nanowires, and also increases the current knowledge of the extracellular electron transfer mechanisms in Geobacter sulfurreducens.

Dantas, JM, Simões T, Morgado L, Caciones C, Fernandes AP, Silva MA, Bruix M, Pokkuluri RP, Salgueiro CA.  2016.  Unveiling the Structural Basis That Regulates the Energy Transduction Properties within a Family of Triheme Cytochromes from Geobacter sulfurreducens. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 120:10221-10233., Number 39 AbstractWebsite

A family of triheme cytochromes from Geobacter sulfurreducens plays an important role in extracellular electron transfer. In addition to their role in electron transfer pathways, two members of this family (PpcA and PpcD) were also found to be able to couple e–/H+ transfer through the redox Bohr effect observed in the physiological pH range, a feature not observed for cytochromes PpcB and PpcE. In attempting to understand the molecular control of the redox Bohr effect in this family of cytochromes, which is highly homologous both in amino acid sequence and structures, it was observed that residue 6 is a conserved leucine in PpcA and PpcD, whereas in the other two characterized members (PpcB and PpcE) the equivalent residue is a phenylalanine. To determine the role of this residue located close to the redox Bohr center, we replaced Leu6 in PpcA with Phe and determined the redox properties of the mutant, as well as its solution structure in the fully reduced state. In contrast with the native form, the mutant PpcAL6F is not able to couple the e–/H+ pathway. We carried out the reverse mutation in PpcB and PpcE (i.e., replacing Phe6 in these two proteins by leucine) and the mutated proteins showed an increased redox Bohr effect. The results clearly establish the role of residue 6 in the control of the redox Bohr effect in this family of cytochromes, a feature that could enable the rational design of G. sulfurreducens strains that carry mutant cytochromes with an optimal redox Bohr effect that would be suitable for various biotechnological applications.

Dantas, JM, Silva e Sousa M, Salgueiro CA, Bruix M.  2015.  Backbone, side chain and heme resonance assignments of cytochrome OmcF from Geobacter sulfurreducens. Biomolecular NMR Assignments. 9(2):365-368. AbstractWebsite

Gene knockout studies on Geobacter sulfurreducens (Gs) cells showed that the outer membrane cytochrome OmcF is involved in respiratory pathways leading to the extracellular reduction of Fe(III) citrate and U(VI) oxide. In addition, microarray analysis of OmcF-deficient mutant versus the wild-type strain revealed that many of the genes with decreased transcript level were those whose expression is upregulated in cells grown with a graphite electrode as electron acceptor. This suggests that OmcF also regulates the electron transfer to electrode surfaces and the concomitant electrical current production by Gs in microbial fuel cells. Extracellular electron transfer processes (EET) constitute nowadays the foundations to develop biotechnological applications in biofuel production, bioremediation and bioenergy. Therefore, the structural characterization of OmcF is a fundamental step to understand the mechanisms underlying EET. Here, we report the complete assignment of the heme proton signals together with (1)H, (13)C and (15)N backbone and side chain assignments of the OmcF, excluding the hydrophobic residues of the N-terminal predicted lipid anchor.

Dantas, JM, Salgueiro CA, Bruix M.  2015.  Backbone, side chain and heme resonance assignments of the triheme cytochrome PpcD from Geobacter sulfurreducens. Biomol NMR Assign. 9(1):211-214. AbstractWebsite

Gene knock-out studies on Geobacter sulfurreducens (Gs) cells showed that the periplasmic triheme cytochrome PpcD is involved in respiratory pathways leading to the extracellular reduction of Fe(III) and U(VI) oxides. More recently, it was also shown that the gene encoding for PpcD has higher transcript abundance when Gs cells utilize graphite electrodes as sole electron donors to reduce fumarate. This sets PpcD as the first multiheme cytochrome to be involved in Gs respiratory pathways that bridge the electron transfer between the cytoplasm and cell exterior in both directions. Nowadays, extracellular electron transfer (EET) processes are explored for several biotechnological applications, which include bioremediation, bioenergy and biofuel production. Therefore, the structural characterization of PpcD is a fundamental step to understand the mechanisms underlying EET. However, compared to non-heme proteins, the presence of numerous proton-containing groups in the redox centers presents additional challenges for protein signal assignment and structure calculation. Here, we report the complete assignment of the heme proton signals together with 1H, 13C and 15N backbone and side chain assignments of the reduced form of PpcD.

Santos, TC, Silva MA, Morgado L, Dantas JM, Salgueiro CA.  2015.  Diving into the redox properties of Geobacter sulfurreducens cytochromes: a model for extracellular electron transfer. Dalton Trans. 44(20):9335-9344. AbstractWebsite

Geobacter bacteria have a remarkable respiratory versatility that includes the dissimilatory reduction of insoluble metal oxides in natural habitats and electron transfer to electrode surfaces from which electricity can be harvested. In both cases, electrons need to be exported from the cell interior to the exterior via a mechanism designated as extracellular electron transfer (EET). Several c-type cytochromes from G. sulfurreducens (Gs) were identified as key players in this process. Biochemical and biophysical data have been obtained for ten Gs cytochromes, including inner-membrane associated (MacA), periplasmic (PpcA, PpcB, PpcC, PpcD, PpcE and GSU1996) and outer membrane-associated (OmcF, OmcS and OmcZ). The redox properties of these cytochromes have been determined, except for PpcC and GSU1996. In this perspective, the reduction potentials of these two cytochromes were determined by potentiometric redox titrations followed by visible spectroscopy. The data obtained are taken together with those available for other key cytochromes to present a thorough overview of the current knowledge of Gs EET mechanisms and provide a possible rationalization for the existence of several multiheme cytochromes involved in the same respiratory pathways.

Marques, AC, Santos L, Costa MN, Dantas JM, Duarte P, Gonçalves A, Martins R, Salgueiro CA, Fortunato E.  2015.  Office Paper Platform for Bioelectrochromic Detection of Electrochemically Active Bacteria using Tungsten Trioxide Nanoprobes. Sci. Rep. 5(9910) AbstractWebsite

Electrochemically active bacteria (EAB) have the capability to transfer electrons to cell exterior, a feature that is currently explored for important applications in bioremediation and biotechnology fields. However, the number of isolated and characterized EAB species is still very limited regarding their abundance in nature. Colorimetric detection has emerged recently as an attractive mean for fast identification and characterization of analytes based on the use of electrochromic materials. In this work, WO3 nanoparticles were synthesized by microwave assisted hydrothermal synthesis and used to impregnate non-treated regular office paper substrates. This allowed the production of a paper-based colorimetric sensor able to detect EAB in a simple, rapid, reliable, inexpensive and eco-friendly method. The developed platform was then tested with Geobacter sulfurreducens, as a proof of concept. G. sulfurreducens cells were detected at latent phase with an RGB ratio of 1.10 ± 0.04, and a response time of two hours.

Dantas, JM, Campelo LM, Duke NEC, Salgueiro CA, Pokkuluri PR.  2015.  The structure of PccH from Geobacter sulfurreducens: a novel low reduction potential monoheme cytochrome essential for accepting electrons from an electrode. FEBS J. 282(11):2215-2231. AbstractWebsite

The structure of cytochrome c (GSU3274) designated as PccH from Geobacter sulfurreducens was determined at a resolution of 2.0 Å. PccH is a small (15 kDa) cytochrome containing one c-type heme, found to be essential for the growth of G. sulfurreducens with respect to accepting electrons from graphite electrodes poised at -300 mV versus standard hydrogen electrode. with fumarate as the terminal electron acceptor. The structure of PccH is unique among the monoheme cytochromes described to date. The structural fold of PccH can be described as forming two lobes with the heme sandwiched in a cleft between the two lobes. In addition, PccH has a low reduction potential of -24 mV at pH 7, which is unusual for monoheme cytochromes. Based on difference in structure, together with sequence phylogenetic analysis, we propose that PccH can be regarded as a first characterized example of a new subclass of class I monoheme cytochromes. The low reduction potential of PccH may enable the protein to be redox active at the typically negative potential ranges encountered by G. sulfurreducens. Because PccH is predicted to be located in the periplasm of this bacterium, it could not be involved in the first step of accepting electrons from the electrode but is very likely involved in the downstream electron transport events in the periplasm.

Dantas, JM, Kokhan O, Pokkuluri RP, Salgueiro CA.  2015.  Molecular interaction studies revealed the bifunctional behavior of triheme cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter sulfurreducens toward the redox active analog of humic substances. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics. 1847:1129-1138., Number 10 AbstractWebsite

Abstract Humic substances (HS) constitute a significant fraction of natural organic matter in terrestrial and aquatic environments and can act as terminal electron acceptors in anaerobic microbial respiration. Geobacter sulfurreducens has a remarkable respiratory versatility and can utilize the \{HS\} analog anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate (AQDS) as a terminal electron acceptor or its reduced form (AH2QDS) as an electron donor. Previous studies set the triheme cytochrome PpcA as a key component for \{HS\} respiration in G. sulfurreducens, but the process is far from fully understood. In this work, \{NMR\} chemical shift perturbation measurements were used to map the interaction region between PpcA and AH2QDS, and to measure their binding affinity. The results showed that the \{AH2QDS\} binds reversibly to the more solvent exposed edge of PpcA heme IV. The \{NMR\} and visible spectroscopies coupled to redox measurements were used to determine the thermodynamic parameters of the PpcA:quinol complex. The higher reduction potential of heme İV\} (− 127 mV) compared to that of \{AH2QDS\} (− 184 mV) explains why the electron transfer is more favorable in the case of reduction of the cytochrome by the quinol. The clear evidence obtained for the formation of an electron transfer complex between \{AH2QDS\} and PpcA, combined with the fact that the protein also formed a redox complex with AQDS, revealed for the first time the bifunctional behavior of PpcA toward an analog of the HS. Such behavior might confer selective advantage to G. sulfurreducens, which can utilize the \{HS\} in any redox state available in the environment for its metabolic needs.

Dantas, J, Morgado L, Aklujkar M, Bruix M, Londer Y, Schiffer M, Pokkuluri RP, Salgueiro C.  2015.  Rational engineering of Geobacter sulfurreducens electron transfer components: a foundation for building improved Geobacter-based bioelectrochemical technologies. Frontiers in Microbiology. 6:752. AbstractWebsite

Multiheme cytochromes have been implicated in Geobacter sulfurreducens (Gs) extracellular electron transfer (EET). These proteins are potential targets to improve EET and enhance bioremediation and electrical current production by Gs. However, the functional characterization of multiheme cytochromes is particularly complex due to the co-existence of several microstates in solution, connecting the fully reduced and fully oxidized states. Over the last decade, new strategies have been developed to characterize multiheme redox proteins functionally and structurally. These strategies were used to reveal the functional mechanism of Gs multiheme cytochromes and also to identify key residues in these proteins for EET. In previous studies, we set the foundations for enhancement of the EET abilities of Gs by characterizing a family of five triheme cytochromes (PpcA-E). These periplasmic cytochromes are implicated in electron transfer between the oxidative reactions of metabolism in the cytoplasm and the reduction of extracellular terminal electron acceptors at the cell’s outer surface. The results obtained suggested that PpcA can couple e-/H+ transfer, a property that might contribute to the proton electrochemical gradient across the cytoplasmic membrane for metabolic energy production. The structural and functional properties of PpcA were characterized in detail and used for rational design of a family of 23 single site PpcA mutants. In this review, we summarize the functional characterization of the native and mutant proteins. Mutants that retain the mechanistic features of PpcA and adopt preferential e-/H+ transfer pathways at lower reduction potential values compared to the wild-type protein were selected for in vivo studies as the best candidates to increase the electron transfer rate of Gs. For the first time Gs strains have been manipulated by the introduction of mutant forms of essential proteins with the aim to develop and improve bioelectrochemical technologies.

Santos, TC, de Oliveira AR, Dantas JM, Salgueiro CA, Cordas CM.  2015.  Thermodynamic and kinetic characterization of PccH, a key protein in microbial electrosynthesis processes in Geobacter sulfurreducens. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics. 1847:1113-1118., Number 10 AbstractWebsite

Abstract The monoheme c-type cytochrome PccH from Geobacter sulfurreducens, involved in the pathway of current-consumption in biofilms, was electrochemically characterized in detail. Cyclic voltammetry was used to determine the kinetics and thermodynamics properties of PccH redox behavior. Entropy, enthalpy and Gibbs free energy changes associated with the redox center transition between the ferric and the ferrous state were determined, indicating an enhanced solvent exposure. The midpoint redox potential is considerably low for a monoheme c-type cytochrome and the heterogeneous electron transfer constant rate reflects a high efficiency of electron transfer process in PccH. The midpoint redox potential dependence on the pH (redox-Bohr effect) was investigated, over the range of 2.5 to 9.1, and is described by the protonation/deprotonation events of two distinct centers in the vicinity of the heme group with pKa values of 2.7 (pKox1); 4.1 (pKred1) and 5.9 (pKox2); 6.4 (pKred2). Based on the inspection of PccH structure, these centers were assigned to heme propionic acids \{P13\} and P17, respectively. The observed redox-Bohr effect indicates that PccH is able to thermodynamically couple electron and proton transfer in the G. sulfurreducens physiological pH range.

Morgado, L, Lourenço S, Londer YY, Schiffer M, Pokkuluri PR, Salgueiro CA.  2014.  Dissecting the functional role of key residues in triheme cytochrome PpcA: a path to rational design of G. sulfurreducens strains with enhanced electron transfer capabilities. PLoS One. 9(8):e105566. AbstractWebsite

PpcA is the most abundant member of a family of five triheme cytochromes c7 in the bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens (Gs) and is the most likely carrier of electrons destined for outer surface during respiration on solid metal oxides, a process that requires extracellular electron transfer. This cytochrome has the highest content of lysine residues (24%) among the family, and it was suggested to be involved in e-/H(+) energy transduction processes. In the present work, we investigated the functional role of lysine residues strategically located in the vicinity of each heme group. Each lysine was replaced by glutamine or glutamic acid to evaluate the effects of a neutral or negatively charged residue in each position. The results showed that replacing Lys9 (located near heme IV), Lys18 (near heme I) or Lys22 (between hemes I and III) has essentially no effect on the redox properties of the heme groups and are probably involved in redox partner recognition. On the other hand, Lys43 (near heme IV), Lys52 (between hemes III and IV) and Lys60 (near heme III) are crucial in the regulation of the functional mechanism of PpcA, namely in the selection of microstates that allow the protein to establish preferential e-/H(+) transfer pathways. The results showed that the preferred e-/H(+) transfer pathways are only established when heme III is the last heme to oxidize, a feature reinforced by a higher difference between its reduction potential and that of its predecessor in the order of oxidation. We also showed that K43 and K52 mutants keep the mechanistic features of PpcA by establishing preferential e-/H+ transfer pathways at lower reduction potential values than the wild-type protein, a property that can enable rational design of Gs strains with optimized extracellular electron transfer capabilities.

Dantas, JM, Morgado L, Catarino T, Kokhan O, Pokkuluri PR, Salgueiro CA.  2014.  Evidence for interaction between the triheme cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter sulfurreducens and anthrahydroquinone-2,6-disulfonate, an analog of the redox active components of humic substances. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1837(6):750-760. AbstractWebsite

The bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens displays an extraordinary respiratory versatility underpinning the diversity of electron donors and acceptors that can be used to sustain anaerobic growth. Remarkably, G. sulfurreducens can also use as electron donors the reduced forms of some acceptors, such as the humic substance analog anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate (AQDS), a feature that confers environmentally competitive advantages to the organism. Using UV-visible and stopped-flow kinetic measurements we demonstrate that there is electron exchange between the triheme cytochrome PpcA from Gs and AQDS. 2D-(1)H-(15)N HSQC NMR spectra were recorded for (15)N-enriched PpcA samples, in the absence and presence of AQDS. Chemical shift perturbation measurements, at increasing concentration of AQDS, were used to probe the interaction region and to measure the binding affinity of the PpcA-AQDS complex. The perturbations on the NMR signals corresponding to the PpcA backbone NH and heme substituents showed that the region around heme IV interacts with AQDS through the formation of a complex with a definite life time in the NMR time scale. The comparison of the NMR data obtained for PpcA in the presence and absence of AQDS showed that the interaction is reversible. Overall, this study provides for the first time a clear illustration of the formation of an electron transfer complex between AQDS and a G. sulfurreducens triheme cytochrome, shedding light on the electron transfer pathways underlying the microbial oxidation of humics.

Bird, LJ, Saraiva IH, Park S, Calçada EO, Salgueiro CA, Nitschke W, Louro RO, Newman DK.  2014.  Nonredundant roles for cytochrome c2 and two high-potential iron-sulfur proteins in the photoferrotroph Rhodopseudomonas palustris TIE-1. J Bacteriol. 196(4):850-858. AbstractWebsite

The purple bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris TIE-1 expresses multiple small high-potential redox proteins during photoautotrophic growth, including two high-potential iron-sulfur proteins (HiPIPs) (PioC and Rpal_4085) and a cytochrome c2. We evaluated the role of these proteins in TIE-1 through genetic, physiological, and biochemical analyses. Deleting the gene encoding cytochrome c2 resulted in a loss of photosynthetic ability by TIE-1, indicating that this protein cannot be replaced by either HiPIP in cyclic electron flow. PioC was previously implicated in photoferrotrophy, an unusual form of photosynthesis in which reducing power is provided through ferrous iron oxidation. Using cyclic voltammetry (CV), electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy, and flash-induced spectrometry, we show that PioC has a midpoint potential of 450 mV, contains all the typical features of a HiPIP, and can reduce the reaction centers of membrane suspensions in a light-dependent manner at a much lower rate than cytochrome c2. These data support the hypothesis that PioC linearly transfers electrons from iron, while cytochrome c2 is required for cyclic electron flow. Rpal_4085, despite having spectroscopic characteristics and a reduction potential similar to those of PioC, is unable to reduce the reaction center. Rpal_4085 is upregulated by the divalent metals Fe(II), Ni(II), and Co(II), suggesting that it might play a role in sensing or oxidizing metals in the periplasm. Taken together, our results suggest that these three small electron transfer proteins perform different functions in the cell.

Dantas, JM, Morgado L, Marques AC, Salgueiro CA.  2014.  Probing the effect of ionic strength on the functional robustness of the triheme cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter sulfurreducens: a contribution for optimizing biofuel cell's power density. J Phys Chem B. 118(43):12416-12425. AbstractWebsite

The increase of conductivity of electrolytes favors the current production in microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Adaptation of cell cultures to higher ionic strength is a promising strategy to increase electricity production. The bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens is considered a leading candidate for MFCs. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the impact of the ionic strength on the functional properties of key periplasmic proteins that warrants electron transfer to cell exterior. The effect of the ionic strength on the functional properties of triheme cytochrome PpcA, the most abundant periplasmic cytochrome in G. sulfurreducens, was investigated by NMR and potentiometric methods. The redox properties of heme IV are the most affected ones. Chemical shift perturbation measurements on the backbone NMR signals, at increasing ionic strength, also showed that the region close to heme IV is the most affected due to the large number of positively charged residues, which confer a highly positive electrostatic surface around this heme. The shielding of these positive charges at high ionic strength explain the observed decrease in the reduction potential of heme IV and shows that PpcA was designed to maintain its functional mechanistic features even at high ionic strength.

Silva, MA, Valente RC, Pokkuluri PR, Turner DL, Salgueiro CA, Catarino T.  2014.  Thermodynamic and kinetic characterization of two methyl-accepting chemotaxis heme sensors from Geobacter sulfurreducens reveals the structural origin of their functional difference. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1837(6):920-928. AbstractWebsite

The periplasmic sensor domains GSU582 and GSU935 are part of methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins of the bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens containing one c-type heme and a PAS-like fold. Their spectroscopic properties were shown previously to share similar spectral features. In both sensors, the heme group is in the high-spin form in the oxidized state and low-spin after reduction and binding of a methionine residue. Therefore, it was proposed that this redox-linked ligand switch might be related to the signal transduction mechanism. We now report the thermodynamic and kinetic characterization of the sensors GSU582 and GSU935 by visible spectroscopy and stopped-flow techniques, at several pH and ionic strength values. Despite their similar spectroscopic features, the midpoint reduction potentials and the rate constants for reduction by dithionite are considerably different in the two sensors. The reduction potentials of both sensors are negative and well framed within the typical anoxic subsurface environments in which Geobacter species predominate. The midpoint reduction potentials of sensor GSU935 are lower than those of GSU582 at all pH and ionic strength values and the same was observed for the reduction rate constants. The origin of the different functional properties of these closely related sensors is rationalized in the terms of the structures. The results suggest that the sensors are designed to function in different working potential ranges, allowing the bacteria to trigger an adequate cellular response in different anoxic subsurface environments. These findings provide an explanation for the co-existence of two similar methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins in G. sulfurreducens.

Dantas, JM, Tomaz DM, Morgado L, Salgueiro CA.  2013.  Functional characterization of PccH, a key cytochrome for electron transfer from electrodes to the bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens. FEBS Letters. 587(16):2662-2668. AbstractWebsite

The cytochrome PccH from Geobacter sulfurreducens (Gs) plays a crucial role in current-consuming fumarate-reducing biofilms. Deletion of pccH gene inhibited completely electron transfer from electrodes toward Gs cells. The pccH gene was cloned and the protein heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli. Complementary biophysical techniques including CD, UV-visible and NMR spectroscopy were used to characterize PccH. This cytochrome contains one low-spin c-type heme with His-Met axial coordination and unusual low-reduction potential. This reduction potential is pH-dependent, within the Gs physiological pH range, and is discussed within the context of the electron transfer mechanisms from electrodes to Gs cells.