Molecular interactions between Geobacter sulfurreducens triheme cytochromes and the redox active analogue for humic substances

Joana M. Dantas, Marisa R. Ferreira, Teresa Catarino, Oleksandr Kokhan, P. Raj Pokkuluri, Carlos A. Salgueiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens can transfer electrons to quinone moieties of humic substances or to anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate (AQDS), a model for the humic acids. The reduced form of AQDS (AH2QDS) can also be used as energy source by G. sulfurreducens. Such bidirectional utilization of humic substances confers competitive advantages to these bacteria in Fe(III) enriched environments. Previous studies have shown that the triheme cytochrome PpcA from G. sulfurreducens has a bifunctional behavior toward the humic substance analogue. It can reduce AQDS but the protein can also be reduced by AH2QDS. Using stopped-flow kinetic measurements we were able to demonstrate that other periplasmic members of the PpcA-family in G. sulfurreducens (PpcB, PpcD and PpcE) also showed the same behavior. The extent of the electron transfer is thermodynamically controlled favoring the reduction of the cytochromes. NMR spectra recorded for 13C,15N-enriched samples in the presence increasing amounts of AQDS showed perturbations in the chemical shift signals of the cytochromes. The chemical shift perturbations on cytochromes backbone NH and 1H heme methyl signals were used to map their interaction regions with AQDS, showing that each protein forms a low-affinity binding complex through well-defined positive surface regions in the vicinity of heme IV (PpcB, PpcD and PpcE) and I (PpcE). Docking calculations performed using NMR chemical shift perturbations allowed modeling the interactions between AQDS and each cytochrome at a molecular level. Overall, the results obtained provided important structural-functional relationships to rationalize the microbial respiration of humic substances in G. sulfurreducens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-630
Number of pages12
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • AQDS
  • Electron transfer
  • Geobacter
  • Humic substances
  • Multiheme cytochromes
  • NMR


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