skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 5:00 PM ET until 11:00 PM ET on Friday, June 21 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Evidence for Quinol Oxidation Activity of ImoA, a Novel NapC/NirT Family Protein from the Neutrophilic Fe(II)-Oxidizing Bacterium Sideroxydans lithotrophicus ES-1
ABSTRACT Sideroxydans species are important chemolithoautotrophic Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria in freshwater environments and play a role in biogeochemical cycling of multiple elements. Due to difficulties in laboratory cultivation and genetic intractability, the electron transport proteins required for the growth and survival of this organism remain understudied. In Sideroxydans lithotrophicus ES-1, it is proposed that the Mto pathway transfers electrons from extracellular Fe(II) oxidation across the periplasm to an inner membrane NapC/NirT family protein encoded by Slit_2495 to reduce the quinone pool. Based on sequence similarity, Slit_2495 has been putatively called CymA, a NapC/NirT family protein which in Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 oxidizes the quinol pool during anaerobic respiration of a wide range of substrates. However, our phylogenetic analysis using the alignment of different NapC/NirT family proteins shows that Slit_2495 clusters closer to NirT sequences than to CymA. We propose the name ImoA (inner membrane oxidoreductase) for Slit_2495. Our data demonstrate that ImoA can oxidize quinol pools in the inner membrane and is able to functionally replace CymA in S. oneidensis. The ability of ImoA to oxidize quinol in vivo as opposed to its proposed function of reducing quinone raises questions about the directionality and/or reversibility of electron flow through the Mto pathway in S. lithotrophicus. IMPORTANCE Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria play an important role in biogeochemical cycles. At circumneutral pH, these organisms perform extracellular electron transfer, taking up electrons from Fe(II) outside the cell, potentially through a porin-cytochrome complex in the outer membrane encoded by the Mto pathway. Electrons from Fe(II) oxidation would then be transported to the quinone pool in the inner membrane via periplasmic and inner membrane electron transfer proteins. Directly demonstrating the functionality of genes in neutrophilic iron oxidizers is challenging due to the absence of robust genetic methods. Here, we heterologously expressed a NapC/NirT family tetraheme cytochrome ImoA, encoded by Slit_2495, an inner membrane protein from the Gram-negative Fe(II)-oxidizing bacterium Sideroxydans lithotrophicus ES-1, proposed to be involved in extracellular electron transfer to reduce the quinone pool. ImoA functionally replaced the inner membrane c-type cytochrome CymA in the Fe(III)-reducing bacterium Shewanella oneidensis. We suggest that ImoA may function primarily to oxidize quinol inS. lithotrophicus.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Newman, Dianne K.
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Neutrophilic Fe(II) oxidizing bacteria play an important role in biogeochemical processes and have also received attention for multiple technological applications. These micro-organisms are thought to couple their metabolism with extracellular electron transfer (EET) while oxidizing Fe(II) as electron donor outside the cell. Sideroxydans lithotrophicus ES-1 is a freshwater chemolithoautotrophic Fe(II) oxidizing bacterium that is challenging to culture and not yet genetically tractable. Analysis of the S. lithotrophicus ES-1 genome predicts multiple EET pathways, which are proposed to be involved in Fe(II) oxidation, but not yet validated. Here we expressed components of two of the proposed EET pathways, including the Mto and Slit_0867–0870 PCC3 pathways , from S. lithotrophicus ES-1 into Aeromonas hydrophila , an established model EET organism. We demonstrate that combinations of putative inner membrane and periplasmic components from the Mto and Slit_0867–0870 PCC3 pathways partially complemented EET activity in Aeromonas mutants lacking native components. Our results provide evidence for electron transfer functionality and interactions of inner membrane and periplasmic components from the Mto and Slit_0867–0870 PCC3 pathways. Based on these findings, we suggest that EET in S. lithotrophicus ES-1 could be more complicated than previously considered and raises questions regarding directionality of these electron transfer pathways. 
    more » « less
  2. Newton, Ryan J. (Ed.)

    The iron-oxidizing Gallionellaceae drive a wide variety of biogeochemical cycles through their metabolisms and biominerals. To better understand the environmental impacts of Gallionellaceae, we need to improve our knowledge of their diversity and metabolisms, especially any novel iron oxidation mechanisms. Here, we used a pangenomic analysis of 103 genomes to resolve Gallionellaceae phylogeny and explore their genomic potential. Using a concatenated ribosomal protein tree and key gene patterns, we determined Gallionellaceae has four genera, divided into two groups: iron-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB)Gallionella,Sideroxydans, andFerriphaseluswith iron oxidation genes (cyc2,mtoA) and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB)CandidatusNitrotoga with the nitrite oxidase genenxr. The FeOB and NOB have similar electron transport chains, including genes for reverse electron transport and carbon fixation. Auxiliary energy metabolisms, including S oxidation, denitrification, and organotrophy, were scattered throughout the FeOB. Within FeOB, we found genes that may represent adaptations for iron oxidation, including a variety of extracellular electron uptake mechanisms. FeOB genomes encoded more predictedc-type cytochromes than NOB genomes, notably more multihemec-type cytochromes (MHCs) with >10 CXXCH motifs. These include homologs of several predicted outer membrane porin-MHC complexes, including MtoAB and Uet. MHCs efficiently conduct electrons across longer distances and function across a wide range of redox potentials that overlap with mineral redox potentials, which can expand the range of usable iron substrates. Overall, the results of pangenome analyses suggest that the Gallionellaceae generaGallionella,Sideroxydans, andFerriphaselushave acquired a range of adaptations to succeed in various environments but are primarily iron oxidizers.


    Neutrophilic iron-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB) produce copious iron (oxyhydr)oxides that can profoundly influence biogeochemical cycles, notably the fate of carbon and many metals. To fully understand environmental microbial iron oxidation, we need a thorough accounting of iron oxidation mechanisms. In this study, we show the Gallionellaceae FeOB genomes encode both characterized iron oxidases as well as uncharacterized multiheme cytochromes (MHCs). MHCs are predicted to transfer electrons from extracellular substrates and likely confer metabolic capabilities that help Gallionellaceae occupy a range of different iron- and mineral-rich niches. Gallionellaceae appear to specialize in iron oxidation, so it would be advantageous for them to have multiple mechanisms to oxidize various forms of iron, given the many iron minerals on Earth, as well as the physiological and kinetic challenges faced by FeOB. The multiple iron/mineral oxidation mechanisms may help drive the widespread ecological success of Gallionellaceae.

    more » « less
  3. Buan, Nicole R. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Sideroxydans lithotrophicus ES-1 grows autotrophically either by Fe(II) oxidation or by thiosulfate oxidation, in contrast to most other isolates of neutrophilic Fe(II)-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB). This provides a unique opportunity to explore the physiology of a facultative FeOB and constrain the genes specific to Fe(II) oxidation. We compared the growth of S. lithotrophicus ES-1 on Fe(II), thiosulfate, and both substrates together. While initial growth rates were similar, thiosulfate-grown cultures had higher yield with or without Fe(II) present, which may give ES-1 an advantage over obligate FeOB. To investigate the Fe(II) and S oxidation pathways, we conducted transcriptomics experiments, validated with reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). We explored the long-term gene expression response at different growth phases (over days to a week) and expression changes during a short-term switch from thiosulfate to Fe(II) (90 min). The dsr and sox sulfur oxidation genes were upregulated in thiosulfate cultures. The Fe(II) oxidase gene cyc2 was among the top expressed genes during both Fe(II) and thiosulfate oxidation, and addition of Fe(II) to thiosulfate-grown cells caused an increase in cyc2 expression. These results support the role of Cyc2 as the Fe(II) oxidase and suggest that ES-1 maintains readiness to oxidize Fe(II), even in the absence of Fe(II). We used gene expression profiles to further constrain the ES-1 Fe(II) oxidation pathway. Notably, among the most highly upregulated genes during Fe(II) oxidation were genes for alternative complex III, reverse electron transport, and carbon fixation. This implies a direct connection between Fe(II) oxidation and carbon fixation, suggesting that CO 2 is an important electron sink for Fe(II) oxidation. IMPORTANCE Neutrophilic FeOB are increasingly observed in various environments, but knowledge of their ecophysiology and Fe(II) oxidation mechanisms is still relatively limited. Sideroxydans isolates are widely observed in aquifers, wetlands, and sediments, and genome analysis suggests metabolic flexibility contributes to their success. The type strain ES-1 is unusual among neutrophilic FeOB isolates, as it can grow on either Fe(II) or a non-Fe(II) substrate, thiosulfate. Almost all our knowledge of neutrophilic Fe(II) oxidation pathways comes from genome analyses, with some work on metatranscriptomes. This study used culture-based experiments to test the genes specific to Fe(II) oxidation in a facultative FeOB and refine our model of the Fe(II) oxidation pathway. We gained insight into how facultative FeOB like ES-1 connect Fe, S, and C biogeochemical cycling in the environment and suggest a multigene indicator would improve understanding of Fe(II) oxidation activity in environments with facultative FeOB. 
    more » « less
  4. Buan, Nicole R. (Ed.)

    Extracellular electron transfer is a process by which bacterial cells can exchange electrons with a redox-active material located outside of the cell. InShewanella oneidensis, this process is natively used to facilitate respiration using extracellular electron acceptors such as Fe(III) or an anode. Previously, it was demonstrated that this process can be used to drive the microbial electrosynthesis (MES) of 2,3-butanediol (2,3-BDO) inS. oneidensisexogenously expressing butanediol dehydrogenase (BDH). Electrons taken into the cell from a cathode are used to generate NADH, which in turn is used to reduce acetoin to 2,3-BDO via BDH. However, generating NADH via electron uptake from a cathode is energetically unfavorable, so NADH dehydrogenases couple the reaction to proton motive force. We therefore need to maintain the proton gradient across the membrane to sustain NADH production. This work explores accomplishing this task by bidirectional electron transfer, where electrons provided by the cathode go to both NADH formation and oxygen (O2) reduction by oxidases. We show that oxidases use trace dissolved oxygen in a microaerobic bioelectrical chemical system (BES), and the translocation of protons across the membrane during O2reduction supports 2,3-BDO generation. Interestingly, this process is inhibited by high levels of dissolved oxygen in this system. In an aerated BES, O2molecules react with the strong reductant (cathode) to form reactive oxygen species, resulting in cell death.


    Microbial electrosynthesis (MES) is increasingly employed for the generation of specialty chemicals, such as biofuels, bioplastics, and cancer therapeutics. For these systems to be viable for industrial scale-up, it is important to understand the energetic requirements of the bacteria to mitigate unnecessary costs. This work demonstrates sustained production of an industrially relevant chemical driven by a cathode. Additionally, it optimizes a previously published system by removing any requirement for phototrophic energy, thereby removing the additional cost of providing a light source. We also demonstrate the severe impact of oxygen intrusion into bioelectrochemical systems, offering insight to future researchers aiming to work in an anaerobic environment. These studies provide insight into both the thermodynamics of electrosynthesis and the importance of the bioelectrochemical systems’ design.

    more » « less
  5. Komeili, Arash (Ed.)
    Iron (Fe) oxidation is one of Earth’s major biogeochemical processes, key to weathering, soil formation, water quality, and corrosion. However, our understanding of microbial contribution is limited by incomplete knowledge of microbial iron oxidation mechanisms, particularly in neutrophilic iron oxidizers. The genomes of many diverse iron oxidizers encode a homolog to an outer membrane cytochrome (Cyc2) shown to oxidize iron in two acidophiles. Phylogenetic analyses show Cyc2 sequences from neutrophiles cluster together, suggesting a common function, though this function has not been verified in these organisms. Therefore, we investigated the iron oxidase function of heterologously expressed Cyc2 from a neutrophilic iron oxidizer Mariprofundus ferrooxydans PV-1. Cyc2 PV-1 is capable of oxidizing iron, and its redox potential is 208 ± 20 mV, consistent with the ability to accept electrons from Fe2+ at neutral pH. These results support the hypothesis that Cyc2 functions as an iron oxidase in neutrophilic iron-oxidizing organisms. The results of sequence analysis and modeling reveal that the entire Cyc2 family shares a unique fused cytochrome-porin structure, with a defining consensus motif in the cytochrome region. On the basis of results from structural analyses, we predict that the monoheme cytochrome Cyc2 specifically oxidizes dissolved Fe2+, in contrast to multiheme iron oxidases, which may oxidize solid Fe(II). With our results, there is now functional validation for diverse representatives of Cyc2 sequences. We present a comprehensive Cyc2 phylogenetic tree and offer a roadmap for identifying cyc2/Cyc2 homologs and interpreting their function. The occurrence of cyc2 in many genomes beyond known iron oxidizers presents the possibility that microbial iron oxidation may be a widespread metabolism. IMPORTANCE Iron is practically ubiquitous across Earth’s environments, central to both life and geochemical processes, which depend heavily on the redox state of iron. Although iron oxidation, or “rusting,” can occur abiotically at near-neutral pH, we find neutrophilic iron-oxidizing bacteria (FeOB) are widespread, including in aquifers, sediments, hydrothermal vents, pipes, and water treatment systems. FeOB produce highly reactive Fe(III) oxyhydroxides that bind a variety of nutrients and toxins; thus, these microbes are likely a controlling force in iron and other biogeochemical cycles. There has been mounting evidence that Cyc2 functions as an iron oxidase in neutrophiles, but definitive proof of its function has long eluded us. This work provides conclusive biochemical evidence of iron oxidation by Cyc2 from neutrophiles. Cyc2 is common to a wide variety of iron oxidizers, including acidophilic and phototrophic iron oxidizers, suggesting that this fused cytochrome-porin structure is especially well adapted for iron oxidation. 
    more » « less