|Electrically conductive pili from pilin genes of phylogenetically diverse microorganisms.
|Year of Publication
|Walker DJf, Adhikari RY, Holmes DE, Ward JE, Woodard TL, Nevin KP, Lovley DR
|Deltaproteobacteria, Electric Conductivity, Fimbriae Proteins, Fimbriae, Bacterial, Methane, Oxidation-Reduction, Phylogeny
The possibility that bacteria other than Geobacter species might contain genes for electrically conductive pili (e-pili) was investigated by heterologously expressing pilin genes of interest in Geobacter sulfurreducens. Strains of G. sulfurreducens producing high current densities, which are only possible with e-pili, were obtained with pilin genes from Flexistipes sinusarabici, Calditerrivibrio nitroreducens and Desulfurivibrio alkaliphilus. The conductance of pili from these strains was comparable to native G. sulfurreducens e-pili. The e-pili derived from C. nitroreducens, and D. alkaliphilus pilin genes are the first examples of relatively long (>100 amino acids) pilin monomers assembling into e-pili. The pilin gene from Candidatus Desulfofervidus auxilii did not yield e-pili, suggesting that the hypothesis that this sulfate reducer wires itself with e-pili to methane-oxidizing archaea to enable anaerobic methane oxidation should be reevaluated. A high density of aromatic amino acids and a lack of substantial aromatic-free gaps along the length of long pilins may be important characteristics leading to e-pili. This study demonstrates a simple method to screen pilin genes from difficult-to-culture microorganisms for their potential to yield e-pili; reveals new sources for biologically based electronic materials; and suggests that a wide phylogenetic diversity of microorganisms may use e-pili for extracellular electron exchange.
|PubMed Central ID