Determinants of Multiheme Cytochrome Extracellular Electron Transfer Uncovered by Systematic Peptide Insertion

Ian J. Campbell, Joshua T. Atkinson, Matthew D. Carpenter, Dru Myerscough, Lin Su, Caroline M. Ajo-Franklin, Jonathan J. Silberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The multiheme cytochrome MtrA enables microbial respiration by transferring electrons across the outer membrane to extracellular electron acceptors. While structural studies have identified residues that mediate the binding of MtrA to hemes and to other cytochromes that facilitate extracellular electron transfer (EET), the relative importance of these interactions for EET is not known. To better understand EET, we evaluated how insertion of an octapeptide across all MtrA backbone locations affects Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 respiration on Fe(III). The EET efficiency was found to be inversely correlated with the proximity of the insertion to the heme prosthetic groups. Mutants with decreased EET efficiencies also arose from insertions in a subset of the regions that make residue-residue contacts with the porin MtrB, while all sites contacting the extracellular cytochrome MtrC presented high peptide insertion tolerance. MtrA variants having peptide insertions within the CXXCH motifs that coordinate heme cofactors retained some ability to support respiration on Fe(III), although these variants presented significantly decreased EET efficiencies. Furthermore, the fitness of cells expressing different MtrA variants under Fe(III) respiration conditions correlated with anode reduction. The peptide insertion profile, which represents the first comprehensive sequence-structure-function map for a multiheme cytochrome, implicates MtrA as a strategic protein engineering target for the regulation of EET.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1337-1350
Number of pages14
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 5 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry


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