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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.

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.

Bandeiras, TM, Salgueiro CA, Huber H, Gomes CM, Teixeira M.  2003.  The respiratory chain of the thermophilic archaeon Sulfolobus metallicus: studies on the type-II NADH dehydrogenase. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics. 1557(1-3):13-19. AbstractWebsite

The membranes of the thermoacidophilic archaeon Sulfolobus metallicus exhibit an oxygen consumption activity of 0.5 nmol O2 min−1 mg−1, which is insensitive to rotenone, suggesting the presence of a type-II NADH dehydrogenase. Following this observation, the enzyme was purified from solubilised membranes and characterised. The pure protein is a monomer with an apparent molecular mass of 49 kDa, having a high N-terminal amino acid sequence similarity towards other prokaryotic enzymes of the same type. It contains a covalently attached flavin, which was identified as being FMN by 31P-NMR spectroscopy, a novelty among type-II NADH dehydrogenases. Metal analysis showed the absence of iron, indicating that no FeS clusters are present in the protein. The average reduction potential of the FMN group was determined to be +160 mV, at 25 °C and pH 6.5, by redox titrations monitored by visible spectroscopy. Catalytically, the enzyme is a NADH:quinone oxidoreductase, as it is capable of transferring electrons from NADH to several quinones, including ubiquinone-1, ubiquinone-2 and caldariella quinone. Maximal turnover rates of 195 μmol NADH oxidized min−1 mg−1 at 60 °C were obtained using ubiquinone-2 as electron acceptor, after enzyme dilution and incubation with phospholipids.

Bandeiras, TM, Salgueiro CA, Kletzin A, Gomes CM, Teixeira M.  2002.  Acidianus ambivalens type-II NADH dehydrogenase: genetic characterisation and identification of the flavin moiety as FMN. FEBS Letters. 531(2):273-277. AbstractWebsite

The thermoacidophilic archaeon Acidianus ambivalens contains a monomeric 47 kDa type-II NADH dehydrogenase (NDH), which contains a covalently bound flavin. In this work, by a combination of several methods, namely 31P-nuclear magnetic resonance and fluorescence spectroscopies, it is proven that this enzyme contains covalent FMN, a novelty among this family of enzymes, which were so far thought to mainly have the flavin dinucleotide form. Discrimination between several possible covalent flavin linkages was achieved by spectral and fluorescence experiments, which identified an 8α-N(1)-histidylflavin-type of linkage. Analysis of the gene-deduced amino acid sequence of type-II NDH showed no transmembranar helices and allowed the definition of putative dinucleotide and quinone binding motifs. Further, it is suggested that membrane anchoring can be achieved via amphipatic helices.

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.

Boscolo, B, Leal SS, Salgueiro CA, Ghibaudi EM, Gomes CM.  2009.  The prominent conformational plasticity of lactoperoxidase: A chemical and pH stability analysis. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Proteins and Proteomics. 1794(7):1041-1048. AbstractWebsite

Lactoperoxidase (LPO) is a structurally complex and stable mammalian redox enzyme. Here we aim at evaluating the influence of ionic interactions and how these intertwine with the structural dynamics, stability and activity of LPO. In this respect, we have compared LPO guanidinium hydrochloride (GdmCl) and urea denaturation pathways and performed a detailed investigation on the effects of pH on the LPO conformational dynamics and stability. Our experimental findings using far-UV CD, Trp fluorescence emission and ESR spectroscopies clearly indicate that LPO charged-denaturation with GdmCl induced a sharp two-step process versus a three-step unfolding mechanism induced by urea. This differential effect between GdmCl and urea suggests that ionic interactions must play a rather prominent role in the stabilization of LPO. With both denaturants, the protein core was shown to retain activity up to near the respective Cm values. Moreover, a pH titration of LPO evidenced no significant conformational alterations or perturbation of heme activity within the 4 to 11 pH interval. In contrast, alterations of ionic interactions by poising LPO at pH 3, 2 and 12 resulted in a loss of secondary structure, loosening of tertiary contacts and loss of activity, which appear to be associated with the perturbation of the hydrophobic core, as evidenced by ANS binding, as well as disruption of the heme pocket demonstrated by optical and EPR spectroscopies. Overall, LPO is characterised by a high degree of peripheral structural plasticity without perturbation of the core heme moiety. The possible physiological meaning of such features is discussed.

Catarino, T, Pessanha M, Candia ADG, Gouveia Z, Fernandes AP, Pokkuluri PR, Murgida D, Marti MA, Todorovic S, Salgueiro CA.  2010.  Probing the Chemotaxis Periplasmic Sensor Domains from Geobacter sulfurreducens by Combined Resonance Raman and Molecular Dynamic Approaches: NO and CO Sensing. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 114 (34):11251-11260. AbstractWebsite

The periplasmic sensor domains encoded by genes gsu0582 and gsu0935 are part of methyl accepting chemotaxis proteins in the bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens (Gs). The sensor domains of these proteins contain a heme-c prosthetic group and a PAS-like fold as revealed by their crystal structures. Biophysical studies of the two domains showed that nitric oxide (NO) binds to the heme in both the ferric and ferrous forms, whereas carbon monoxide (CO) binds only to the reduced form. In order to address these exogenous molecules as possible physiological ligands, binding studies and resonance Raman (RR) spectroscopic characterization of the respective CO and NO adducts were performed in this work. In the absence of exogenous ligands, typical RR frequencies of five-coordinated (5c) high-spin and six-coordinated (6c) low-spin species were observed in the oxidized form. In the reduced state, only frequencies corresponding to the latter were detected. In both sensors, CO binding yields 6c low-spin adducts by replacing the endogenous distal ligand. The binding of NO by the two proteins causes partial disruption of the proximal Fe-His bond, as revealed by the RR fingerprint features of 5cFe-NO and 6cNO-Fe-His species. The measured CO and NO dissociation constants of ferrous GSU0582 and GSU0935 sensors reveal that both proteins have high and similar affinity toward these molecules (Kd ≈ 0.04−0.08 μM). On the contrary, in the ferric form, sensor GSU0582 showed a much higher affinity for NO (Kd ≈ 0.3 μM for GSU0582 versus 17 μM for GSU0935). Molecular dynamics calculations revealed a more open heme pocket in GSU0935, which could account for the different affinities for NO. Taken together, spectroscopic data and MD calculations revealed subtle differences in the binding properties and structural features of formed CO and NO adducts, but also indicated a possibility that a (5c) high-spin/(6c) low-spin redox-linked equilibrium could drive the physiological sensing of Gs cells.

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.

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.

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.

Dantas, JM, Saraiva IH, Morgado L, Silva MA, Schiffer M, Salgueiro CA, Louro RO.  2011.  Orientation of the axial ligands and magnetic properties of the hemes in the cytochromec7 family from Geobacter sulfurreducens determined by paramagnetic NMR. Dalton Transactions. 40(47):12713-12718. AbstractWebsite

Geobacter sulfurreducens is a sediment bacterium that contains a large number of multiheme cytochromes. The family of five c7 triheme periplasmic cytochromes from Geobacter sulfurreducens shows structural diversity of the heme core. Structural characterization of the relative orientation of the axial ligands of these proteins by 13C-paramagnetic NMR was carried out. The structures in solution were compared with those obtained by X-ray crystallography. For some hemes significant differences exist between the two methods such that orientation of the magnetic axes obtained from NMR data and the orientation taken from the X-ray coordinates differ. The results allowed the orientation of the magnetic axes to be defined confidently with respect to the heme frame in solution, a necessary step for the use of paramagnetic constraints to improve the complete solution structure of these proteins.

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, 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, 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, Morgado L, Pokkuluri PR, Turner DL, Salgueiro CA.  2013.  Solution structure of a mutant of the triheme cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter sulfurreducens sheds light on the role of the conserved aromatic residue F15. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Bioenergetics. 1827(4):484-492. AbstractWebsite

Extracellular electron transfer is one of the physiological hallmarks of Geobacteraceae. Most of the Geobacter species encode for more than 100 c-type cytochromes which are, in general, poorly conserved between individual species. An exception to this is the PpcA family of periplasmic triheme c-type cytochromes, which are the most abundant proteins in these bacteria. The functional characterization of PpcA showed that it has the necessary properties to couple electron/proton transfer, a fundamental step for ATP synthesis. The detailed thermodynamic characterization of a PpcA mutant, in which the strictly conserved residue phenylalanine 15 was replaced by leucine, showed that the global redox network of cooperativities among heme groups is altered, preventing the mutant from performing a concerted electron/proton transfer. In this work, we determined the solution structure of PpcA F15L mutant in the fully reduced state using NMR spectroscopy by producing 15N-labeled protein. In addition, pH-dependent conformational changes were mapped onto the structure. The mutant structure obtained is well defined, with an average pairwise root-mean-square deviation of 0.36 Å for the backbone atoms and 1.14 Å for all heavy atoms. Comparison between the mutant and wild-type structures elucidated the contribution of phenylalanine 15 in the modulation of the functional properties of PpcA.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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, 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.

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, 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.

Dantas, JM, Morgado L, Londer YY, Fernandes AP, Louro RO, Pokkuluri PR, Schiffer M, Salgueiro CA.  2012.  Pivotal role of the strictly conserved aromatic residue F15 in the cytochrome c7 family. Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry. 17(1):11-24. AbstractWebsite

Cytochromes c7 are periplasmic triheme proteins that have been reported exclusively in δ-proteobacteria. The structures of five triheme cytochromes identified in Geobacter sulfurreducens and one in Desulfuromonas acetoxidans have been determined. In addition to the hemes and axial histidines, a single aromatic residue is conserved in all these proteins - phenylalanine 15 (F15). PpcA is a member of the G. sulfurreducens cytochrome c7 family that performs electron/proton energy transduction in addition to electron transfer that leads to the reduction of extracellular electron acceptors. For the first time we probed the role of the F15 residue in the PpcA functional mechanism, by replacing this residue with the aliphatic leucine by site-directed mutagenesis. The analysis of NMR spectra of both oxidized and reduced forms showed that the heme core and the overall fold of the mutated protein were not affected. However, the analysis of 1H-15N heteronuclear single quantum coherence NMR spectra evidenced local rearrangements in the α-helix placed between hemes I and III that lead to structural readjustments in the orientation of heme axial ligands. The detailed thermodynamic characterization of F15L mutant revealed that the reduction potentials are more negative and the redox-Bohr effect is decreased. The redox potential of heme III is most affected. It is of interest that the mutation in F15, located between hemes I and III in PpcA, changes the characteristics of the two hemes differently. Altogether, these modifications disrupt the balance of the global network of cooperativities, preventing the F15L mutant protein from performing a concerted electron/proton transfer.

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.