Lactate is a common substrate for major groups of strictly anaerobic bacteria, but the biochemistry and bioenergetics of lactate oxidation is obscure. The high redox potential of the pyruvate/lactate pair of E0 ' = -190 mV excludes direct NAD(+) reduction (E0 ' = -320 mV). To identify the hitherto unknown electron acceptor, we have purified the lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) from the strictly anaerobic, acetogenic bacterium Acetobacterium woodii. The LDH forms a stable complex with an electron-transferring flavoprotein (Etf) that exhibited NAD(+) reduction only when reduced ferredoxin (Fd(2-) ) was present. Biochemical analyses revealed that the LDH/Etf complex of A. woodii uses flavin-based electron confurcation to drive endergonic lactate oxidation with NAD(+) as oxidant at the expense of simultaneous exergonic electron flow from reduced ferredoxin (E0 ' ≈ -500 mV) to NAD(+) according to: lactate + Fd(2-) + 2 NAD(+) → pyruvate + Fd + 2 NADH. The reduced Fd(2-) is regenerated from NADH by a sequence of events that involves conversion of chemical (ATP) to electrochemical ( Δ μ ˜ Na + ) and finally redox energy (Fd(2-) from NADH) via reversed electron transport catalysed by the Rnf complex. Inspection of genomes revealed that this metabolic scenario for lactate oxidation may also apply to many other anaerobes.
© 2014 Society for Applied Microbiology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.