Insights into genes involved in electricity generation in Geobacter sulfurreducens via whole genome microarray analysis of the OmcF-deficient mutant

Byoung-Chan Kim, Bradley L Postier, Raymond J Didonato, Swades K Chaudhuri, Kelly P Nevin, Derek R Lovley
Bioelectrochemistry 2008, 73 (1): 70-5
Geobacter sulfurreducens effectively produces electricity in microbial fuel cells by oxidizing acetate with an electrode serving as the sole electron acceptor. Deletion of the gene encoding OmcF, a monoheme outer membrane c-type cytochrome, substantially decreased current production. Previous studies demonstrated that inhibition of Fe(III) reduction in the OmcF-deficient mutant could be attributed to poor transcription of the gene for OmcB, an outer membrane c-type cytochrome that is required for Fe(III) reduction. However, a mutant in which omcB was deleted produced electricity as well as wild type. Microarray analysis of the OmcF-deficient mutant versus the wild type revealed that many of the genes with the greatest decreases in transcript levels were genes whose expression was previously reported to be upregulated in cells grown with an electrode as the sole electron acceptor. These included genes with putative functions related to metal efflux and/or type I secretion and two hypothetical proteins. The outer membrane cytochromes, OmcS and OmcE, which previous studies have demonstrated are required for optimal current generation, were not detected on the outer surface of the OmcF-deficient mutant even though the omcS and omcE genes were still transcribed, suggesting that the putative secretion system could be involved in the export of outer membrane proteins necessary for electron transfer to the fuel cell anode. These results suggest that the requirement for OmcF for optimal current production is not because OmcF is directly involved in extracellular electron transfer but because OmcF is required for the appropriate transcription of other genes either directly or indirectly involved in electricity production.

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