Tungsten and molybdenum regulation of formate dehydrogenase expression in Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough

Sofia M da Silva, Catarina Pimentel, Filipa M A Valente, Claudina Rodrigues-Pousada, Inês A C Pereira
Journal of Bacteriology 2011, 193 (12): 2909-16
Formate is an important energy substrate for sulfate-reducing bacteria in natural environments, and both molybdenum- and tungsten-containing formate dehydrogenases have been reported in these organisms. In this work, we studied the effect of both metals on the levels of the three formate dehydrogenases encoded in the genome of Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough, with lactate, formate, or hydrogen as electron donors. Using Western blot analysis, quantitative real-time PCR, activity-stained gels, and protein purification, we show that a metal-dependent regulatory mechanism is present, resulting in the dimeric FdhAB protein being the main enzyme present in cells grown in the presence of tungsten and the trimeric FdhABC₃ protein being the main enzyme in cells grown in the presence of molybdenum. The putatively membrane-associated formate dehydrogenase is detected only at low levels after growth with tungsten. Purification of the three enzymes and metal analysis shows that FdhABC₃ specifically incorporates Mo, whereas FdhAB can incorporate both metals. The FdhAB enzyme has a much higher catalytic efficiency than the other two. Since sulfate reducers are likely to experience high sulfide concentrations that may result in low Mo bioavailability, the ability to use W is likely to constitute a selective advantage.

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