Organohalide respiratory chains: composition, topology and key enzymes

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The utilization of halogenated organic compounds as terminal electron acceptors separates the phylogenetically diverse organohalide-respiring bacteria from other respiratory anaerobes that predominantly use nitrate, fumarate, sulfate or oxidized metals. Organohalide respiration is unique in recruiting a cobamide-containing iron-sulfur protein, the extracellular membrane-bound reductive dehalogenase, as terminal reductase in the electron transfer chain. In recent years substantial contributions have been made to the understanding of how electron transfer paths couple mechanistically to chemiosmosis in the organohalide-respiring bacteria. The structural analysis of a respiratory and a non-respiratory reductive dehalogenase revealed the intramolecular electron transfer via two cubane iron-sulfur clusters to the cobamide at the active site. Based on whether quinones are involved, two types of intermolecular electron transfer chains have been identified, which differ in their composition and mode of proton translocation. Indeed, various respiratory chain architectures have been unraveled and evidence for different putative coupling mechanisms presented. The identification of a multienzyme respiratory complex that combines uptake hydrogenase, a complex iron-sulfur molybdoenzyme and a reductive dehalogenase in Dehalococcoides mccartyi strain CBDB1 has raised new questions regarding the mode of energy conservation in these enigmatic microbes. In this mini-review, we highlight these findings and provide an outlook on potential future developments.

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