An unconventional pathway for reduction of CO2 to methane in CO-grown Methanosarcina acetivorans revealed by proteomics

Daniel J. Lessner, Lingyun Li, Qingbo Li, Tomas Rejtar, Victor P. Andreev, Matthew Reichlen, Kevin Hill, James J. Moran, Barry L. Karger, James G. Ferry

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Methanosarcina acetivorans produces acetate, formate, and methane when cultured with CO as the growth substrate [Rother M, Metcalf WW (2004) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101:16929-16934], which suggests novel features of CO metabolism. Here we present a genome-wide proteomic approach to identify and quantify proteins differentially abundant in response to growth on CO versus methanol or acetate. The results indicate that oxidation of CO to CO2 supplies electrons for reduction of CO2 to a methyl group by steps and enzymes of the pathway for CO2 reduction determined for other methane-producing species. However, proteomic and quantitative RT-PCR results suggest that reduction of the methyl group to methane involves novel methyltransferases and a coenzyme F420H2:heterodisulfide oxidoreductase system that generates a proton gradient for ATP synthesis not previously described for pathways reducing CO2 to methane. Biochemical assays support a role for the oxidoreductase, and transcriptional mapping identified an unusual operon structure encoding the oxidoreductase. The proteomic results further indicate that acetate is synthesized from the methyl group and CO by a reversal of initial steps in the pathway for conversion of acetate to methane that yields ATP by substrate level phosphorylation. The results indicate that M. acetivorans utilizes a pathway distinct from all known CO2 reduction pathways for methane formation that reflects an adaptation to the marine environment. Finally, the pathway supports the basis for a recently proposed primitive CO-dependent energy-conservation cycle that drove and directed the early evolution of life on Earth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17921-17926
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number47
StatePublished - Nov 21 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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