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1.  Rational engineering of Geobacter sulfurreducens electron transfer components: a foundation for building improved Geobacter-based bioelectrochemical technologies 
Multiheme cytochromes have been implicated in Geobacter sulfurreducens extracellular electron transfer (EET). These proteins are potential targets to improve EET and enhance bioremediation and electrical current production by G. sulfurreducens. 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 G. sulfurreducens 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 G. sulfurreducens 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 G. sulfurreducens. For the first time G. sulfurreducens strains have been manipulated by the introduction of mutant forms of essential proteins with the aim to develop and improve bioelectrochemical technologies.
PMCID: PMC4519760  PMID: 26284042
Geobacter; cytochrome c; multiheme; extracellular electron transfer; Geobacter mutant strains
2.  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  2014;9(8):e105566.
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.
PMCID: PMC4143306  PMID: 25153891
3.  Role of Met58 in the regulation of electron/proton transfer in trihaem cytochrome PpcA from Geobacter sulfurreducens 
Bioscience Reports  2012;33(1):e00002.
The bacterium Gs (Geobacter sulfurreducens) is capable of oxidizing a large variety of compounds relaying electrons out of the cytoplasm and across the membranes in a process designated as extracellular electron transfer. The trihaem cytochrome PpcA is highly abundant in Gs and is most probably the reservoir of electrons destined for the outer surface. In addition to its role in electron transfer pathways, we have previously shown that this protein could perform e−/H+ energy transduction. This mechanism is achieved by selecting the specific redox states that the protein can access during the redox cycle and might be related to the formation of proton electrochemical potential gradient across the periplasmic membrane. The regulatory role of haem III in the functional mechanism of PpcA was probed by replacing Met58, a residue that controls the solvent accessibility of haem III, with serine, aspartic acid, asparagine or lysine. The data obtained from the mutants showed that the preferred e−/H+ transfer pathway observed for PpcA is strongly dependent on the reduction potential of haem III. It is striking to note that one residue can fine tune the redox states that can be accessed by the trihaem cytochrome enough to alter the functional pathways.
PMCID: PMC3522473  PMID: 23030844
electron transfer; Geobacter; multihaem cytochrome; NMR site-directed mutagenesis; EXSY, exchange spectroscopy; Gs, Geobacter sulfurreducens; HSQC, heteronuclear single-quantum coherence; NOESY, nuclear Overhauser enhancement spectroscopy; rmsd, root mean square deviation; 2D, two-dimensional
4.  Fine Tuning of Redox Networks on Multiheme Cytochromes from Geobacter sulfurreducens Drives Physiological Electron/Proton Energy Transduction 
The bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens (Gs) can grow in the presence of extracellular terminal acceptors, a property that is currently explored to harvest electricity from aquatic sediments and waste organic matter into microbial fuel cells. A family composed of five triheme cytochromes (PpcA-E) was identified in Gs. These cytochromes play a crucial role by bridging the electron transfer from oxidation of cytoplasmic donors to the cell exterior and assisting the reduction of extracellular terminal acceptors. The detailed thermodynamic characterization of such proteins showed that PpcA and PpcD have an important redox-Bohr effect that might implicate these proteins in the e−/H+ coupling mechanisms to sustain cellular growth. The physiological relevance of the redox-Bohr effect in these proteins was studied by determining the fractional contribution of each individual redox-microstate at different pH values. For both proteins, oxidation progresses from a particular protonated microstate to a particular deprotonated one, over specific pH ranges. The preferred e−/H+ transfer pathway established by the selected microstates indicates that both proteins are functionally designed to couple e−/H+ transfer at the physiological pH range for cellular growth.
PMCID: PMC3415244  PMID: 22899897

Results 1-4 (4)