Generation of High Current Densities in Geobacter sulfurreducens Lacking the Putative Gene for the PilB Pilus Assembly Motor.

TitleGeneration of High Current Densities in Geobacter sulfurreducens Lacking the Putative Gene for the PilB Pilus Assembly Motor.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsUeki T, Walker DJF, Nevin KP, Ward JE, Woodard TL, Nonnenmann SS, Lovley DR
JournalMicrobiol Spectr
Date Published2021 Oct 31
KeywordsBacterial Proteins, Electric Conductivity, Electron Transport, Fimbriae Proteins, Fimbriae, Bacterial, Gene Deletion, Geobacter, Geologic Sediments, Microscopy, Atomic Force, Oxidoreductases

Geobacter sulfurreducens is commonly employed as a model for the study of extracellular electron transport mechanisms in the species. Deletion of , which is known to encode the pilus assembly motor protein for type IV pili in other bacteria, has been proposed as an effective strategy for evaluating the role of electrically conductive pili (e-pili) in G. sulfurreducens extracellular electron transfer. In those studies, the inhibition of e-pili expression associated with deletion was not demonstrated directly but was inferred from the observation that deletion mutants produced lower current densities than wild-type cells. Here, we report that deleting did not diminish current production. Conducting probe atomic force microscopy revealed filaments with the same diameter and similar current-voltage response as e-pili harvested from wild-type G. sulfurreducens or when e-pili are expressed heterologously from the G. sulfurreducens pilin gene in Escherichia coli. Immunogold labeling demonstrated that a G. sulfurreducens strain expressing a pilin monomer with a His tag continued to express His tag-labeled filaments when was deleted. These results suggest that a reinterpretation of the results of previous studies on G. sulfurreducens deletion strains may be necessary. Geobacter sulfurreducens is a model microbe for the study of biogeochemically and technologically significant processes, such as the reduction of Fe(III) oxides in soils and sediments, bioelectrochemical applications that produce electric current from waste organic matter or drive useful processes with the consumption of renewable electricity, direct interspecies electron transfer in anaerobic digestors and methanogenic soils and sediments, and metal corrosion. Elucidating the phenotypes associated with gene deletions is an important strategy for determining the mechanisms for extracellular electron transfer in G. sulfurreducens. The results reported here demonstrate that we cannot replicate the key phenotype reported for a gene deletion that has been central to the development of models for long-range electron transport in G. sulfurreducens.

Alternate JournalMicrobiol Spectr
PubMed ID34585977
PubMed Central IDPMC8557921