Two W-containing formate dehydrogenases (CO2-reductases) involved in syntrophic propionate oxidation by Syntrophobacter fumaroxidans


F. de Bok, Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University, Hesselink van Suchtelenweg 4, 6703 CT Wageningen, the Netherlands. Fax: + 31 317 483829, Tel.: + 31 317 483752, E-mail:


Two formate dehydrogenases (CO2-reductases) (FDH-1 and FDH-2) were isolated from the syntrophic propionate-oxidizing bacterium Syntrophobacter fumaroxidans. Both enzymes were produced in axenic fumarate-grown cells as well as in cells which were grown syntrophically on propionate with Methanospirillum hungatei as the H2 and formate scavenger. The purified enzymes exhibited extremely high formate-oxidation and CO2-reduction rates, and low Km values for formate. For the enzyme designated FDH-1, a specific formate oxidation rate of 700 U·mg−1 and a Km for formate of 0.04 mm were measured when benzyl viologen was used as an artificial electron acceptor. The enzyme designated FDH-2 oxidized formate with a specific activity of 2700 U·mg−1 and a Km of 0.01 mm for formate with benzyl viologen as electron acceptor. The specific CO2-reduction (to formate) rates measured for FDH-1 and FDH-2, using dithionite-reduced methyl viologen as the electron donor, were 900 U·mg−1 and 89 U·mg−1, respectively. From gel filtration and polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis it was concluded that FDH-1 is composed of three subunits (89 ± 3, 56 ± 2 and 19 ± 1 kDa) and has a native molecular mass of approximately 350 kDa. FDH-2 appeared to be a heterodimer composed of a 92 ± 3 kDa and a 33 ± 2 kDa subunit. Both enzymes contained tungsten and selenium, while molybdenum was not detected. EPR spectroscopy suggested that FDH-1 contains at least four [2Fe-2S] clusters per molecule and additionally paramagnetically coupled [4Fe-4S] clusters. FDH-2 contains at least two [4Fe-4S] clusters per molecule. As both enzymes are produced under all growth conditions tested, but with differences in levels, expression may depend on unknown parameters.