Clade II nitrous oxide respiration of Wolinella succinogenes depends on the NosG, -C1, -C2, -H electron transport module, NosB and a Rieske/cytochrome bc complex

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Microbial reduction of nitrous oxide (N2O) is an environmentally significant process in the biogeochemical nitrogen cycle. However, it has been recognized only recently that the gene encoding N2O reductase (nosZ) is organized in varying genetic contexts, thereby defining clade I (or ‘typical’) and clade II (or ‘atypical’) N2O reductases and nos gene clusters. This study addresses the enzymology of the clade II Nos system from Wolinella succinogenes, a nitrate-ammonifying and N2O-respiring Epsilonproteobacterium that contains a cytochrome c N2O reductase (cNosZ). The characterization of single non-polar nos gene deletion mutants demonstrated that the NosG, -C1, -C2, -H and -B proteins were essential for N2O respiration. Moreover, cells of a W. succinogenes mutant lacking a putative menaquinol-oxidizing Rieske/cytochrome bc complex (QcrABC) were found to be incapable of N2O (and also nitrate) respiration. Proton motive menaquinol oxidation by N2O is suggested, supported by the finding that the molar yield for W. succinogenes cells grown by N2O respiration using formate as electron donor exceeded that of fumarate respiration by about 30%. The results demand revision of the electron transport chain model of clade II N2O respiration and challenge the assumption that NosGH(NapGH)-type iron-sulfur proteins are menaquinol-reactive.

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