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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jul 25;278(30):27758-65. Epub 2003 May 5.

Characterization of the Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 decaheme cytochrome MtrA: expression in Escherichia coli confers the ability to reduce soluble Fe(III) chelates.

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  • 1Centre for Metalloprotein Spectroscopy and Biology, School of Biological Sciences and School of Chemical Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom.


Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 has the metabolic capacity to grow anaerobically using Fe(III) as a terminal electron acceptor. Growth under these conditions results in the de novo synthesis of a number of periplasmic c-type cytochromes, many of which are multiheme in nature and are thought to be involved in the Fe(III) respiratory process. To begin a biochemical study of these complex cytochromes, the mtrA gene that encodes an approximate 32-kDa periplasmic decaheme cytochrome has been heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli. Co-expression of mtrA with a plasmid that contains cytochrome c maturation genes leads to the assembly of a correctly targeted holoprotein, which covalently binds ten hemes. The recombinant MtrA protein has been characterized by magnetic circular dichroism, which shows that all ten hemes have bis-histidine axial ligation. EPR spectroscopy detected only eight of these hemes, all of which are low spin and provides evidence for a spin-coupled pair of hemes in the oxidized state. Redox titrations of MtrA have been carried out with optical- and EPR-monitored methods, and the hemes are shown to reduce over the potential range -100 to -400 mV. In intact cells of E. coli, MtrA is shown to obtain electrons from the host electron transport chain and pass these onto host oxidoreductases or a range of soluble Fe(III) species. This demonstrates the promiscuous nature of this decaheme cytochrome and its potential to serve as a soluble Fe(III) reductase in intact cells.

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