- Papoutsakis, Eleftherios T.
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- National Science Foundation
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Every living cell needs to get rid of leftover electrons when metabolism extracts energy through the oxidation of nutrients. Common soil microbes such as Geobacter sulfurreducens live in harsh environments that do not afford the luxury of soluble, ingestible electron acceptors like oxygen. Instead of resorting to fermentation, which requires the export of reduced compounds (e.g. ethanol or lactate derived from pyruvate) from the cell, these organisms have evolved a means to anaerobically respire by using nanowires to export electrons to extracellular acceptors in a process called extracellular electron transfer (EET) [ 1]. Since 2005, these nanowires were thought to be pili filaments [ 2]. But recent studies have revealed that nanowires are composed of multiheme cytochromes OmcS [ 3, 4] and OmcZ [ 5] whereas pili remain inside the cell during EET and are required for the secretion of nanowires [ 6]. However, how electrons are passed to these nanowires remains a mystery ( Figure 1A). Periplasmic cytochromes (Ppc) called PpcA-E could be doing the job, but only two of them (PpcA and PpcD) can couple electron/proton transfer — a necessary condition for energy generation. In a recent study, Salgueiro and co-workers selectively replaced an aromatic with an aliphaticmore »
Microbial biofilms as living photoconductors due to ultrafast electron transfer in cytochrome OmcS nanowires
Light-induced microbial electron transfer has potential for efficient production of value-added chemicals, biofuels and biodegradable materials owing to diversified metabolic pathways. However, most microbes lack photoactive proteins and require synthetic photosensitizers that suffer from photocorrosion, photodegradation, cytotoxicity, and generation of photoexcited radicals that are harmful to cells, thus severely limiting the catalytic performance. Therefore, there is a pressing need for biocompatible photoconductive materials for efficient electronic interface between microbes and electrodes. Here we show that living biofilms of
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Protein nanowires with tunable functionality and programmable self-assembly using sequence-controlled synthesis
Advances in synthetic biology permit the genetic encoding of synthetic chemistries at monomeric precision, enabling the synthesis of programmable proteins with tunable properties. Bacterial pili serve as an attractive biomaterial for the development of engineered protein materials due to their ability to self-assemble into mechanically robust filaments. However, most biomaterials lack electronic functionality and atomic structures of putative conductive proteins are not known. Here, we engineer high electronic conductivity in pili produced by a genomically-recoded
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