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Metagenomic Sequencing Unravels Gene Fragments with Phylogenetic Signatures of O2-Tolerant NiFe Membrane-Bound Hydrogenases in Lacustrine Sediment
- Couto, Jillian M., Ijaz, Umer Zeeshan, Phoenix, Vernon R., Schirmer, Melanie, Sloan, William T.
- Current microbiology 2015 v.71 no.2 pp. 296-302
- amino acid sequences, bioinformatics, cysteine, ferredoxin hydrogenase, genes, hydrogen, metabolism, metagenomics, oxygen, phylogeny, sediments, sequence analysis, taxonomy
- Many promising hydrogen technologies utilising hydrogenase enzymes have been slowed by the fact that most hydrogenases are extremely sensitive to O₂. Within the group 1 membrane-bound NiFe hydrogenase, naturally occurring tolerant enzymes do exist, and O₂ tolerance has been largely attributed to changes in iron–sulphur clusters coordinated by different numbers of cysteine residues in the enzyme’s small subunit. Indeed, previous work has provided a robust phylogenetic signature of O₂ tolerance , which when combined with new sequencing technologies makes bio prospecting in nature a far more viable endeavour. However, making sense of such a vast diversity is still challenging and could be simplified if known species with O₂-tolerant enzymes were annotated with information on metabolism and natural environments. Here, we utilised a bioinformatics approach to compare O₂-tolerant and sensitive membrane-bound NiFe hydrogenases from 177 bacterial species with fully sequenced genomes for differences in their taxonomy, O₂ requirements, and natural environment. Following this, we interrogated a metagenome from lacustrine surface sediment for novel hydrogenases via high-throughput shotgun DNA sequencing using the Illumina™ MiSeq platform. We found 44 new NiFe group 1 membrane-bound hydrogenase sequence fragments, five of which segregated with the tolerant group on the phylogenetic tree of the enzyme’s small subunit, and four with the large subunit, indicating de novo O₂-tolerant protein sequences that could help engineer more efficient hydrogenases.