Regulation of gene expression in Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 during electron acceptor limitation and bacterial nanowire formation

Sarah E. Barchinger, Sahand Pirbadian, Christine Sambles, Carol S. Baker, Kar Man Leung, Nigel J. Burroughs, Mohamed Y. El-Naggar, John H. Golbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


In limiting oxygen as an electron acceptor, the dissimilatory metal-reducing bacterium Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 rapidly forms nanowires, extensions of its outer membrane containing the cytochromes MtrC and OmcA needed for extracellular electron transfer. RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) analysis was employed to determine differential gene expression over time from triplicate chemostat cultures that were limited for oxygen. We identified 465 genes with decreased expression and 677 genes with increased expression. The coordinated increased expression of heme biosynthesis, cytochrome maturation, and transport pathways indicates that S. oneidensis MR-1 increases cytochrome production, including the transcription of genes encoding MtrA, MtrC, and OmcA, and transports these decaheme cytochromes across the cytoplasmic membrane during electron acceptor limitation and nanowire formation. In contrast, the expression of the mtrA and mtrC homologs mtrF and mtrD either remains unaffected or decreases under these conditions. The ompW gene, encoding a small outer membrane porin, has 40-fold higher expression during oxygen limitation, and it is proposed that OmpW plays a role in cation transport to maintain electrical neutrality during electron transfer. The genes encoding the anaerobic respiration regulator cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP) and the extracytoplasmic function sigma factor RpoE are among the transcription factor genes with increased expression. RpoE might function by signaling the initial response to oxygen limitation. Our results show that RpoE activates transcription from promoters upstream of mtrC and omcA. The transcriptome and mutant analyses of S. oneidensis MR-1 nanowire production are consistent with independent regulatory mechanisms for extending the outer membrane into tubular structures and for ensuring the electron transfer function of the nanowires.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5428-5443
Number of pages16
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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