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posted on 06.03.2018 by Ouwei Wang, Ryan A. Melnyk, Misha G. Mehta-Kolte, Matthew D. Youngblut, Hans K. Carlson, John D. Coates

Most dissimilatory perchlorate reducing bacteria (DPRB) are also capable of respiratory nitrate reduction, and preferentially utilize nitrate over perchlorate as a terminal electron acceptor. The similar domain architectures and phylogenetic relatedness of the nitrate and perchlorate respiratory complexes suggests a common evolutionary history and a potential for functionally redundant electron carriers. In this study, we identify key genetic redundancies in the electron transfer pathways from the quinone pool(s) to the terminal nitrate and perchlorate reductases in Azospira suillum PS (hereafter referred to as PS). We show that the putative quinol dehydrogenases, (PcrQ and NapC) and the soluble cytochrome electron carriers (PcrO and NapO) are functionally redundant under anaerobic growth conditions. We demonstrate that, when grown diauxically with both nitrate and perchlorate, the endogenous expression of NapC and NapO during the nitrate reduction phase was sufficient to completely erase any growth defect in the perchlorate reduction phase caused by deletion of pcrQ and/or pcrO. We leveraged our understanding of these genetic redundancies to make PS mutants with altered electron acceptor preferences. Deletion of the periplasmic nitrate reductase catalytic subunit, napA, led to preferential utilization of perchlorate even in the presence of equimolar nitrate, and deletion of the electron carrier proteins napQ and napO, resulted in concurrent reduction of nitrate and perchlorate. Our results demonstrate that nitrate and perchlorate respiratory pathways in PS share key functionally redundant electron transfer proteins and that mutagenesis of these proteins can be utilized as a strategy to alter the preferential usage of nitrate over perchlorate.