Enterococcus faecalis cells are known to have ferric reductase activity and the ability to transfer electrons generated in metabolism to the external environment. We have isolated mutants defective in ferric reductase activity and studied their electron transfer properties to electrodes mediated by ferric ions and an osmium complex modified redox polymer (OsRP), respectively. Electron transfer mediated with ferric ions and ferric reductase activity were both found dependent on the membrane associated Ndh3 and EetA proteins, consistent with findings in Listeria monocytogenes In contrast, electron transfer mediated with OsRP was independent of these two proteins. Quinone in the cell membrane was required for the electron transfer with both mediators. The combined results demonstrate that extracellular electron transfer from reduced quinone to ferric ions and to OsRP occurs via different routes in the cell envelope of E. faecalis. IMPORTANCE Transfer of reducing power in the form of electrons, generated in catabolism of nutrients, from a bacterium to an extracellular acceptor appears common in nature. The electron acceptor can be another cell or innate material. Such extracellular electron transfer contributes to syntrophic metabolism and is of wide environmental, industrial, and medical importance. Electron transfer between microorganisms and electrodes is fundamental in microbial fuel cells for energy production and for electricity-driven synthesis of chemical compounds in cells. In contrast to the much studied extracellular electron transfer mediated by cell surface exposed cytochromes, little is known about components and mechanisms for such electron transfer in organisms without these cytochromes and in gram-positive bacteria, like E. faecalis which is a commensal gut lactic acid bacterium and opportunistic pathogen.
Hederstedt, L., Gorton, L., & Pankratova, G. (2020). Two routes for extracellular electron transfer in Enterococcus faecalis. Journal of Bacteriology, 202(7), [e00725-19]. https://doi.org/10.1128/jb.00725-19