Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 152, Issue 4, pp 369–376 | Cite as

A study on electron transport-driven proton translocation in Desulfovibrio desulfuricans

  • Robert M. Fitz
  • Heribert Cypionka
Original Papers


Proton translocation by washed cells of the sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio desulfuricans strain Essex 6 was studied by means of pH and sulfide electrodes. Reversible extrusion of protons could be induced either by addition of electron acceptors to cells incubated under hydrogen, or by addition of hydrogen to cells incubated in the presence of an appropriate electron acceptor. Proton translocation was increased in the presence of ionophores that dissipate the membrane potential (thiocyanate, methyl triphenylphosphonium cation, but not valinomycin) and was sensitive to the uncoupler carbonylcyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP). Upon micromolar additions of H2, usually sulfide was formed in stoichiometric amounts, and extrapolated H+/H2 ratios were 1.8±0.5 with sulfate, 2.3±0.3 with sulfite and 0.5±0.1 with thiosulfate. In several experiments hydrogen pulses caused increased proton extrusion not associated with sulfide production. This was a hint that sulfite might be reduced via intermediates. In the absence of H2S formation, extrapolated H+/H2 ratios were 3.1±0.8 with sulfate, 3.4±1.1 with sulfite, 4.4±0.8 with thiosulfate and 6.3±1.2 with oxygen. Micromolar pulses of electron acceptors to cells incubated under H2 caused less proton translocation than H2 pulses in presence of excess of electron acceptor; extrapolated H+/H2 ratios were 1.3±0.4 with sulfite, 3.3±0.9 with nitrite and 4.2±0.5 with oxygen. No proton translocation was observed after micromolar pulses of sulfate, thiosulfate or nitrate to cells incubated under hydrogen in the presence of thiocyanate. Inhibition experiments with CO and CuCl2 revealed that the hydrogenase activity was localized in the intracellular space, and that no periplasmic hydrogenase was present. The results indicate that D. desulfuricans can generate a proton gradient by pumping protons across the cytoplasmic membrane.

Key words

Dissimilatory sulfate reduction Electron transport-driven proton translocation Hydrogenase Desulfovibrio desulfuricans 



adenosine 5′-phosphosulfate


carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone


methyl triphenylphosphonium cation


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert M. Fitz
    • 1
  • Heribert Cypionka
    • 1
  1. 1.Fakultät für BiologieUniversität KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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