Toward establishing minimum requirements for extracellular electron transfer inGeobacter sulfurreducens

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The highly redundant pathways for extracellular electron transfer in Geobacter sulfurreducens must be simplified for this microorganism to serve as an effective chassis for applications such as the development of sensors and biocomputing. Five homologs of the periplasmic c-type cytochromes, PpcA-E, offer the possibility of multiple routes of electron transfer across the periplasm. The presence of a large number of outer membrane c-type cytochromes allows G. sulfurreducens to adapt to disruption of an electron transfer pathway in the outer membrane. A strain in which genes for all five periplasmic cytochromes, PpcA-E, were deleted did not reduce Fe(III). Introducing ppcA under the control of an IPTG-inducible system in the quintuple deletion strain yielded a strain that reduced Fe(III) only in the presence of IPTG. A strain lacking known major outer membrane cytochromes, OmcB, OmcE, OmcS and OmcT, and putative functional homologs of OmcB, did not reduce Fe(III). Introduction of omcB in this septuple deletion strain restored the ability to reduce Fe(III). These results demonstrate that it is possible to trim redundancy from the extracellular electron transfer pathways in G. sulfurreducens in order to construct strains with defined extracellular electron transfer routes.

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