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Mol Microbiol. 2011 Aug;81(4):897-911. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2011.07734.x. Epub 2011 Jul 13.

Deletion of alternative pathways for reductant recycling in Thermococcus kodakarensis increases hydrogen production.

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Department of Microbiology and Center for RNA Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Hydrogen (H₂) production by Thermococcus kodakarensis compares very favourably with the levels reported for the most productive algal, fungal and bacterial systems. T. kodakarensis can also consume H₂ and is predicted to use several alternative pathways to recycle reduced cofactors, some of which may compete with H₂ production for reductant disposal. To explore the reductant flux and possible competition for H₂ production in vivo, T. kodakarensis TS517 was mutated to precisely delete each of the alternative pathways of reductant disposal, H₂ production and consumption. The results obtained establish that H₂ is generated predominantly by the membrane-bound hydrogenase complex (Mbh), confirm the essential role of the SurR (TK1086p) regulator in vivo, delineate the roles of sulfur (S°) regulon proteins and demonstrate that preventing H₂ consumption results in a substantial net increase in H₂ production. Constitutive expression of TK1086 (surR) from a replicative plasmid restored the ability of T. kodakarensis TS1101 (ΔTK1086) to grow in the absence of S° and stimulated H₂ production, revealing a second mechanism to increase H₂ production. Transformation of T. kodakarensis TS1101 with plasmids that express SurR variants constructed to direct the constitutive synthesis of the Mbh complex and prevent expression of the S° regulon was only possible in the absence of S° and, under these conditions, the transformants exhibited wild-type growth and H₂ production. With S° present, they grew slower but synthesized more H₂ per unit biomass than T. kodakarensis TS517.

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