Reconstruction of extracellular respiratory pathways for iron(III) reduction in Shewanella oneidensis strain MR-1

Dan Coursolle, Jeffrey A. Gralnick

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Shewanella oneidensis strain MR-1 is a facultative anaerobic bacterium capable of respiring a multitude of electron acceptors, many of which require the Mtr respiratory pathway. The core Mtr respiratory pathway includes a periplasmic c-type cytochrome (MtrA), an integral outer-membrane β-barrel protein (MtrB), and an outer-membrane-anchored c-type cytochrome (MtrC). Together, these components facilitate transfer of electrons from the c-type cytochrome CymA in the cytoplasmic membrane to electron acceptors at and beyond the outer-membrane. The genes encoding these core proteins have paralogs in the S. oneidensis genome (mtrB and mtrA each have four while mtrC has three) and some of the paralogs of mtrC and mtrA are able to form functional Mtr complexes. We demonstrate that of the additional three mtrB paralogs found in the S. oneidensis genome, only MtrE can replace MtrB to form a functional respiratory pathway to soluble iron(III) citrate. We also evaluate which mtrC/mtrA paralog pairs (a total of 12 combinations) are able to form functional complexes with endogenous levels of mtrB paralog expression. Finally, we reconstruct all possible functional Mtr complexes and test them in a S. oneidensis mutant strain where all paralogs have been eliminated from the genome. We find that each combination tested with the exception of MtrA/MtrE/OmcA is able to reduce iron(III) citrate at a level significantly above background. The results presented here have implications toward the evolution of anaerobic extracellular respiration in Shewanella and for future studies looking to increase the rates of substrate reduction for water treatment, bioremediation, or electricity production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberFEB
StatePublished - 2012


  • Anaerobic
  • Extracellular respiration
  • Iron respiration
  • Mtr-pathway


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