Structure of a bacterial cell surface decaheme electron conduit.

Centre for Molecular and Structural Biochemistry, School of Biological Sciences and School of Chemistry, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 06/2011; 108(23):9384-9. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1017200108
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Some bacterial species are able to utilize extracellular mineral forms of iron and manganese as respiratory electron acceptors. In Shewanella oneidensis this involves decaheme cytochromes that are located on the bacterial cell surface at the termini of trans-outer-membrane electron transfer conduits. The cell surface cytochromes can potentially play multiple roles in mediating electron transfer directly to insoluble electron sinks, catalyzing electron exchange with flavin electron shuttles or participating in extracellular intercytochrome electron exchange along "nanowire" appendages. We present a 3.2-Å crystal structure of one of these decaheme cytochromes, MtrF, that allows the spatial organization of the 10 hemes to be visualized for the first time. The hemes are organized across four domains in a unique crossed conformation, in which a staggered 65-Å octaheme chain transects the length of the protein and is bisected by a planar 45-Å tetraheme chain that connects two extended Greek key split β-barrel domains. The structure provides molecular insight into how reduction of insoluble substrate (e.g., minerals), soluble substrates (e.g., flavins), and cytochrome redox partners might be possible in tandem at different termini of a trifurcated electron transport chain on the cell surface.

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    ABSTRACT: The naturally widespread process of electron transfer from metal reducing bacteria to extracellular solid metal oxides entails unique biomolecular machinery optimized for long-range electron transport. To perform this function efficiently, microorganisms have adapted multiheme c-type cytochromes to arrange heme cofactors into wires that cooperatively span the cellular envelope, transmitting electrons along distances greater than 100 Å. Implications and opportunities for bionanotechnological device design are self-evident. However, at the molecular level, how these proteins shuttle electrons along their heme wires, navigating intraprotein intersections and interprotein interfaces efficiently, remains a mystery thus far inaccessible to experiment. To shed light on this critical topic, we carried out extensive quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics simulations to calculate stepwise heme-to-heme electron transfer rates in the recently crystallized outer membrane deca-heme cytochrome MtrF. By solving a master equation for electron hopping, we estimate an intrinsic, maximum possible electron flux through solvated MtrF of 10(4)-10(5) s(-1), consistent with recently measured rates for the related multiheme protein complex MtrCAB. Intriguingly, our calculations show that the rapid electron transport through MtrF is the result of a clear correlation between heme redox potential and the strength of electronic coupling along the wire: thermodynamically uphill steps occur only between electronically well-connected stacked heme pairs. This observation suggests that the protein evolved to harbor low-potential hemes without slowing down electron flow. These findings are particularly profound in light of the apparently well-conserved staggered cross-heme wire structural motif in functionally related outer membrane proteins.
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