A 9.6kDa periplasmic c-type cytochrome, designated PpcA, was purified from the Fe(III)-reducing bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens and characterized. The purified protein is basic (pI 9.5), contains three haems and has an N-terminal amino acid sequence closely related to those of the previously described trihaem c7 cytochromes of Geobacter metallireducens and Desulfuromonas acetoxidans. The gene encoding PpcA was identified from the G. sulfurreducens genome using the N-terminal sequence, and encodes a protein of 71 amino acids (molecular mass 9.58kDa) with 49% identity to the c7 cytochrome of D. acetoxidans. In order to determine the physiological role of PpcA, a knockout mutant was prepared with a single-step recombination method. Acetate-dependent Fe(III) reduction was significantly inhibited in both growing cultures and cell suspensions of the mutant. When ppcA was expressed in trans, the full capacity for Fe(III) reduction with acetate was restored. The transfer of electrons from acetate to anthraquinone 2,6-disulphonate (AQDS; a humic acid analogue) and to U(VI) was also compromised in the mutant, but acetate-dependent reduction of fumarate was not altered. The rates of reduction of Fe(III), AQDS, U(VI) and fumarate were also the same in the wild type and ppcA mutant when hydrogen was supplied as the electron donor. When taken together with previous studies on other electron transport proteins in G. sulfurreducens, these results suggest that PpcA serves as an intermediary electron carrier from acetate to terminal Fe(III) reductases in the outer membrane, and is also involved in the transfer of electrons from acetate to U(VI) and humics.

Abbreviations used: AQDS, anthraquinone 2,6-disulphonate; MALDI, matrix-assisted laser-desorption ionization.

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Author notes

The nucleotide sequence data for ppcA have been submitted to the GenBank®, EMBL, DDBJ and GSDB Nucleotide Sequence databases under accession number AF505790.