, Volume 66, Issue 1-3, pp 187-208

Metabolism of methanogens

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Abstract

Methanogenic archaea convert a few simple compounds such as H2 + CO2, formate, methanol, methylamines, and acetate to methane. Methanogenesis from all these substrates requires a number of unique coenzymes, some of which are exclusively found in methanogens. H2-dependent CO2 reduction proceeds via carrier-bound C1 intermediates which become stepwise reduced to methane. Methane formation from methanol and methylamines involves the disproportionation of the methyl groups. Part of the methyl groups are oxidized to CO2, and the reducing equivalents thereby gained are subsequently used to reduce other methyl groups to methane. This process involves the same C1 intermediates that are formed during methanogenesis from CO2. Conversion of acetate to methane and carbon dioxide is preceeded by its activation to acetyl-CoA. Cleavage of the latter compound yields a coenzyme-bound methyl moiety and an enzyme-bound carbonyl group. The reducing equivalents gained by oxidation of the carbonyl group to carbon dioxide are subsequently used to reduce the methyl moiety to methane. All these processes lead to the generation of transmembrane ion gradients which fuel ATP synthesis via one or two types of ATP synthases. The synthesis of cellular building blocks starts with the central anabolic intermediate acetyl-CoA which, in autotrophic methanogens, is synthesized from two molecules of CO2 in a linear pathway.