Pathways of Iron and Sulfur Acquisition, Cofactor Assembly, Destination, and Storage in Diverse Archaeal Methanogens and Alkanotrophs


Archaeal methanogens, methanotrophs, and alkanotrophs have a high demand for iron (Fe) and sulfur (S); however, little is known of how they acquire, traffic, deploy, and store these elements. Here, we examined the distribution of homologs of proteins mediating key steps in Fe/S metabolism in model microorganisms, including iron(II) sensing/uptake (FeoAB), sulfide extraction from cysteine (SufS), and the biosynthesis of iron-sulfur [Fe-S] clusters (SufBCDE), siroheme (Pch2 dehydrogenase), protoheme (AhbABCD), cytochrome c (Cyt c) (CcmCF), and iron storage/detoxification (Bfr, FtrA, and IssA), among 326 publicly available, complete or metagenome-assembled genomes of archaeal methanogens/methanotrophs/alkanotrophs. The results indicate several prevalent but nonuniversal features, including FeoB, SufBC, and the biosynthetic apparatus for the basic tetrapyrrole scaffold, as well as its siroheme (and F430) derivatives. However, several early-diverging genomes lacked SufS and pathways to synthesize and deploy heme. Genomes encoding complete versus incomplete heme biosynthetic pathways exhibited equivalent prevalences of [Fe-S] cluster binding proteins, suggesting an expansion of catalytic capabilities rather than substitution of heme for [Fe-S] in the former group. Several strains with heme binding proteins lacked heme biosynthesis capabilities, while other strains with siroheme biosynthesis capability lacked homologs of known siroheme binding proteins, indicating heme auxotrophy and unknown siroheme biochemistry, respectively. While ferritin proteins involved in ferric oxide storage were widespread, those involved in storing Fe as thioferrate were unevenly distributed. Collectively, the results suggest that differences in the mechanisms of Fe and S acquisition, deployment, and storage have accompanied the diversification of methanogens/methanotrophs/alkanotrophs, possibly in response to differential availability of these elements as these organisms evolved.




Johnson, Christina, Alexis England, Mason Munro-Ehrlich, Daniel R. Colman, Jennifer L. DuBois, and Eric S. Boyd. “Pathways of Iron and Sulfur Acquisition, Cofactor Assembly, Destination, and Storage in Diverse Archaeal Methanogens and Alkanotrophs.” Edited by William W. Metcalf. Journal of Bacteriology 203, no. 17 (August 9, 2021). doi:10.1128/jb.00117-21.
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