Extracellular electron transfer is one of the physiological hallmarks of Geobacter sulfurreducens, allowing these bacteria to reduce toxic and/or radioactive metals and grow on electrode surfaces. Aiming to functionally optimize the respiratory electron-transfer chains, such properties can be explored through genetically engineered strains. Geobacter species comprise a large number of different multihaem c-type cytochromes involved in the extracellular electron-transfer pathways. The functional characterization of multihaem proteins is particularly complex because of the coexistence of several microstates in solution, connecting the fully reduced and oxidized states. NMR spectroscopy has been used to monitor the stepwise oxidation of each individual haem and thus to obtain information on each microstate. For the structural study of these proteins, a cost-effective isotopic labelling of the protein polypeptide chains was combined with the comparative analysis of 1H-13C HSQC (heteronuclear single-quantum correlation) NMR spectra obtained for labelled and unlabelled samples. These new methodological approaches allowed us to study G. sulfurreducens haem proteins functionally and structurally, revealing functional mechanisms and key residues involved in their electron-transfer capabilities. Such advances can now be applied to the design of engineered haem proteins to improve the bioremediation and electricity-harvesting skills of G. sulfurreducens.
- Extracellular electron transfer
- Geobacter sulfurreducens
- Multihaem cytochrome
- Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)
- Protein structure