Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Energy conservation by oxidation of formate to carbon dioxide and hydrogen via a sodium ion current in a hyperthermophilic archaeon.

PMID 25049407


Thermococcus onnurineus NA1 is known to grow by the anaerobic oxidation of formate to CO2 and H2, a reaction that operates near thermodynamic equilibrium. Here we demonstrate that this reaction is coupled to ATP synthesis by a transmembrane ion current. Formate oxidation leads to H(+) translocation across the cytoplasmic membrane that then drives Na(+) translocation. The ion-translocating electron transfer system is rather simple, consisting of only a formate dehydrogenase module, a membrane-bound hydrogenase module, and a multisubunit Na(+)/H(+) antiporter module. The electrochemical Na(+) gradient established then drives ATP synthesis. These data give a mechanistic explanation for chemiosmotic energy conservation coupled to formate oxidation to CO2 and H2. Because it is discussed that the membrane-bound hydrogenase with the Na(+)/H(+) antiporter module are ancestors of complex I of mitochondrial and bacterial electron transport these data also shed light on the evolution of ion transport in complex I-like electron transport chains.