Geobacter bacteria usually prevail among other microorganisms in soils and sediments where Fe(III) reduction has a central role. This reduction is achieved by extracellular electron transfer (EET), where the electrons are exported from the interior of the cell to the surrounding environment. Periplasmic cytochromes play an important role in establishing an interface between inner and outer membrane electron transfer components. In addition, periplasmic cytochromes, in particular nanowire cytochromes that contain at least 12 haem groups, have been proposed to play a role in electron storage in conditions of an environmental lack of electron acceptors. Up to date, no redox partners have been identified in Geobacter sulfurreducens, and concomitantly, the EET and electron storage mechanisms remain unclear. In this work, NMR chemical shift perturbation measurements were used to probe for an interaction between the most abundant periplasmic cytochrome PpcA and the dodecahaem cytochrome GSU1996, one of the proposed nanowire cytochromes in G. sulfurreducens. The perturbations on the haem methyl signals of GSU1996 and PpcA showed that the proteins form a transient redox complex in an interface that involves haem groups from two different domains located at the C-terminal of GSU1996. Overall, the present study provides for the first time a clear evidence for an interaction between periplasmic cytochromes that might be relevant for the EET and electron storage pathways in G. sulfurreducens.

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