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  1. Particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO), a membrane-bound enzyme having three subunits (α, β, and γ) and copper-containing centers, is found in most of the methanotrophs that selectively catalyze the oxidation of methane into methanol. Active sites in the pMMO of Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b were determined by docking the modeled structure with ethylbenzene, toluene, 1,3-dibutadiene, and trichloroethylene. The docking energy between the modeled pMMO structure and ethylbenzene, toluene, 1,3-dibutadiene, and trichloroethylene was −5.2, −5.7, −4.2, and −3.8 kcal/mol, respectively, suggesting the existence of more than one active site within the monomeric subunits due to the presence of multiple binding sites within the pMMO monomer. The evaluation of tunnels and cavities of the active sites and the docking results showed that each active site is specific to the radius of the substrate. To increase the catalysis rates of methane in the pMMO of M. trichosporium OB3b, selected amino acid residues interacting at the binding site of ethylbenzene, toluene, 1,3-dibutadiene, and trichloroethylene were mutated. Based on screening the strain energy, docking energy, and physiochemical properties, five mutants were downselected, B:Leu31Ser, B:Phe96Gly, B:Phe92Thr, B:Trp106Ala, and B:Tyr110Phe, which showed the docking energy of −6.3, −6.7, −6.3, −6.5, and −6.5 kcal/mol, respectively, as compared to the wildmore »type (−5.2 kcal/mol) with ethylbenzene. These results suggest that these five mutants would likely increase methane oxidation rates compared to wild-type pMMO.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  2. Zodletone spring is a sulfide-rich spring in southwestern Oklahoma characterized by shallow, microoxic, light-exposed spring water overlaying anoxic sediments. Previously, culture-independent 16S rRNA gene based diversity surveys have revealed that Zodletone spring source sediments harbor a highly diverse microbial community, with multiple lineages putatively involved in various sulfur-cycling processes. Here, we conducted a metatranscriptomic survey of microbial populations in Zodletone spring source sediments to characterize the relative prevalence and importance of putative phototrophic, chemolithotrophic, and heterotrophic microorganisms in the sulfur cycle, the identity of lineages actively involved in various sulfur cycling processes, and the interaction between sulfur cycling and other geochemical processes at the spring source. Sediment samples at the spring’s source were taken at three different times within a 24-h period for geochemical analyses and RNA sequencing. In depth mining of datasets for sulfur cycling transcripts revealed major sulfur cycling pathways and taxa involved, including an unexpected potential role of Actinobacteria in sulfide oxidation and thiosulfate transformation. Surprisingly, transcripts coding for the cyanobacterial Photosystem II D1 protein, methane monooxygenase, and terminal cytochrome oxidases were encountered, indicating that genes for oxygen production and aerobic modes of metabolism are actively being transcribed, despite below-detectable levels (<1 µM) of oxygen in sourcemore »sediment. Results highlight transcripts involved in sulfur, methane, and oxygen cycles, propose that oxygenic photosynthesis could support aerobic methane and sulfide oxidation in anoxic sediments exposed to sunlight, and provide a viewpoint of microbial metabolic lifestyles under conditions similar to those seen during late Archaean and Proterozoic eons.

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