Energy conservation involving 2 respiratory circuits

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Jan 14;117(2):1167-1173. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1914939117. Epub 2019 Dec 26.


Chemiosmosis and substrate-level phosphorylation are the 2 mechanisms employed to form the biological energy currency adenosine triphosphate (ATP). During chemiosmosis, a transmembrane electrochemical ion gradient is harnessed by a rotary ATP synthase to phosphorylate adenosine diphosphate to ATP. In microorganisms, this ion gradient is usually composed of [Formula: see text], but it can also be composed of Na+ Here, we show that the strictly anaerobic rumen bacterium Pseudobutyrivibrio ruminis possesses 2 ATP synthases and 2 distinct respiratory enzymes, the ferredoxin:[Formula: see text] oxidoreductase (Rnf complex) and the energy-converting hydrogenase (Ech complex). In silico analyses revealed that 1 ATP synthase is [Formula: see text]-dependent and the other Na+-dependent, which was validated by biochemical analyses. Rnf and Ech activity was also biochemically identified and investigated in membranes of P. ruminis Furthermore, the physiology of the rumen bacterium and the role of the energy-conserving systems was investigated in dependence of 2 different catabolic pathways (the Embden-Meyerhof-Parnas or the pentose-phosphate pathway) and in dependence of Na+ availability. Growth of P. ruminis was greatly stimulated by Na+, and a combination of physiological, biochemical, and transcriptional analyses revealed the role of the energy conserving systems in P. ruminis under different metabolic scenarios. These data demonstrate the use of a 2-component ion circuit for [Formula: see text] bioenergetics and a 2nd 2-component ion circuit for Na+ bioenergetics in a strictly anaerobic rumen bacterium. In silico analyses infer that these 2 circuits are prevalent in a number of other strictly anaerobic microorganisms.

Keywords: ATP synthase; Rnf complex; energy conservation; energy converting hydrogenase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • ATP Synthetase Complexes / metabolism*
  • Adenosine Diphosphate / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / enzymology
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Clostridiales / enzymology
  • Clostridiales / genetics
  • Clostridiales / growth & development
  • Clostridiales / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Ferredoxins / metabolism
  • Hydrogenase / metabolism
  • Ion Transport
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Sodium / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Ferredoxins
  • Adenosine Diphosphate
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Sodium
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Hydrogenase
  • ATP Synthetase Complexes
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases

Supplementary concepts

  • Pseudobutyrivibrio ruminis