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Sulfur Oxidation in the Acidophilic Autotrophic Acidithiobacillus spp.

Sulfur Oxidation in the Acidophilic Autotrophic Acidithiobacillus spp. fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 1 REVIEW published: 10 January 2019 doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03290 Sulfur Oxidation in the Acidophilic Autotrophic Acidithiobacillus spp. Rui Wang, Jian-Qiang Lin, Xiang-Mei Liu, Xin Pang, Cheng-Jia Zhang, Chun-Long Yang, Xue-Yan Gao, Chun-Mao Lin, Ya-Qing Li, Yang Li, Jian-Qun Lin and Lin-Xu Chen * * State Key Laboratory of Microbial Technology, Shandong University, Qingdao, China Sulfur oxidation is an essential component of the earth’s sulfur cycle. Acidithiobacillus spp. can oxidize various reduced inorganic sulfur compounds (RISCs) with high efficiency to obtain electrons for their autotrophic growth. Strains in this genus have been widely applied in bioleaching and biological desulfurization. Diverse sulfur-metabolic pathways and corresponding regulatory systems have been discovered in these acidophilic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. The sulfur-metabolic enzymes in Acidithiobacillus spp. can be categorized as elemental sulfur oxidation enzymes (sulfur dioxygenase, sulfur oxygenase reductase, and Hdr-like complex), enzymes in thiosulfate oxidation Edited by: pathways (tetrathionate intermediate thiosulfate oxidation (S I) pathway, the sulfur Christiane Dahl, oxidizing enzyme (Sox) system and thiosulfate dehydrogenase), sulfide oxidation Universität Bonn, Germany enzymes (sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase) and sulfite oxidation pathways/enzymes. The Reviewed by: two-component systems (TCSs) are the typical regulation elements for periplasmic Marianne Guiral, Center for the National Scientific thiosulfate metabolism in these autotrophic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Examples are Research (CNRS), France RsrS/RsrR responsible for S I pathway regulation and TspS/TspR for Sox system Arnulf Kletzin, Darmstadt University of Technology, regulation. The proposal of sulfur metabolic and regulatory models provide new insights Germany and overall understanding of the sulfur-metabolic processes in Acidithiobacillus spp. The *Correspondence: future research directions and existing barriers in the bacterial sulfur metabolism are also Jian-Qun Lin emphasized here and the breakthroughs in these areas will accelerate the research on jianqunlin@sdu.edu.cn Lin-Xu Chen the sulfur oxidation in Acidithiobacillus spp. and other sulfur oxidizers. linxuchen@sdu.edu.cn Keywords: Acidithiobacillus, sulfur oxidation, two-component system, elemental sulfur oxidation, thiosulfate oxidation pathways, sulfide oxidation, sulfite oxidation Specialty section: This article was submitted to Microbial Physiology and Metabolism, a section of the journal INTRODUCTION Frontiers in Microbiology Acidithiobacillus, the gram-negative sulfur-oxidizing chemolithotrophic bacteria in the Received: 02 July 2018 Accepted: 18 December 2018 proteobacterial class Acidithiobacillia, formerly belonged to the genus “Thiobacillus” (Vishniac Published: 10 January 2019 and Santer, 1957; Kelly and Wood, 2000; Williams and Kelly, 2013). However, due to their Citation: higher acid-tolerance and relatively closer evolutionary relationships with each other compared to Wang R, Lin J-Q, Liu X-M, other species in the genus Thiobacillus, they were reclassified as a new genus “Acidithiobacillus” Pang X, Zhang C-J, Yang C-L, in 2000 (Kelly and Wood, 2000). Members of this genus have the remarkable capability of Gao X-Y, Lin C-M, Li Y-Q, Li Y, Lin J-Q oxidizing various reduced inorganic sulfur compounds (RISCs) to obtain electrons for carbon and Chen L-X (2019) Sulfur Oxidation dioxide fixation, and some of them also have ferrous iron oxidation ability (Harrison, 1984). in the Acidophilic Autotrophic On the basis of physiological characters and 16S rRNA gene sequence comparisons, the genus Acidithiobacillus spp. Acidithiobacillus has been classified into seven different species (Table 1; Waksman and Joffe, 1922; Front. Microbiol. 9:3290. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03290 Temple and Colmer, 1951; Hallberg and Lindstrom, 1994; Xia et al., 2007; Liljeqvist et al., 2012; Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 1 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 2 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus Falagan and Johnson, 2016; Nunez et al., 2017). Based on the sulfide oxidation enzymes, and sulfite oxidation enzymes. These differences in the energy-substrates, species in Acidithiobacillus enzymes work cooperatively to oxidize the RISCs to the final can be divided into two groups: the sulfur-oxidizing-only species, product sulfate. Therefore, the identification of novel sulfur- including Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans, Acidithiobacillus caldus metabolic proteins and investigation of the metabolic and and Acidithiobacillus albertensis, and the sulfur- and ferrous- regulatory mechanisms of these known sulfur oxidation proteins oxidizing species, including Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, have been the main subject of researches on sulfur oxidation Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans, Acidithiobacillus ferriphilus, and in Acidithiobacillus spp. Significant research progress was made Acidithiobacillus ferridurans (Table 1). Acidithiobacillus strains over the last decades in these areas. Here, the key points are are widely distributed in acidic sulfur-containing environments summarized to provide an overall picture of sulfur oxidation in on land or in the sea, including soil, sediments, hot springs, Acidithiobacillus spp. iron-sulfur mineral deposits and acid mine drainage (AMD), where these bacteria participate in the global element cycles of sulfur and iron, promoting the oxidation of RISCs to sulfate and ELEMENTAL SULFUR OXIDATION the conversions between ferrous and ferric ions (London and Rittenberg, 1964; Nielsen and Beck, 1972; Taylor et al., 1984; Sulfur Dioxygenase (SDO) Schrenk et al., 1998; Jones et al., 2012; Hua et al., 2015; Sharmin et al., 2016). Elemental sulfur (S ), mainly present in the form of insoluble Acidithiobacillus spp. are prevalent in acid mines due to homocyclic S , is hydrophobic, metastable, and almost insoluble their capabilities of utilizing the sulfur and iron in ores and in water. Elemental sulfur oxidation activity was first detected in adapting to extremely acidic environments. As a consequence, A. thiooxidans as early as 1959 (Suzuki and Werkman, 1959). The Acidithiobacillus spp. have become the most active bacteria purified enzyme that is associated with this activity was named used in the biohydrometallurgy industry in bioleaching or sulfur dioxygenase (SDO, EC 1.13.11.18) and reduced glutathione biomining, whereby metals are extracted from ores through (GSH) was necessary for activity detection in in vitro assays. microbial oxidation (Rawlings et al., 1999; Rawlings, 2005). It was reported that Sulfur dioxygenase (SDO) is composed of Three species, A. ferrooxidans A. thiooxidans, and A. caldus, a 21- and a 26- kDa protein in A. thiooxidans or two 23 kDa have been studied extensively and applied widely in bioleaching subunits in A. ferrooxidans (Suzuki, 1965; Silver and Lundgren, for mineral extraction from ores (Valdés et al., 2008b). In 1968a; Sugio et al., 1987a). Assays in vitro revealed that the addition, the ability of heavy metal leaching has expanded the actual substrate for SDO-catalyzed reaction was the sulfane sulfur application of Acidithiobacillus spp. from hydrometallurgy to the atom of glutathione persulfide (GSSH) and its homologs (GSSnH, treatment of wastes containing heavy metals, such as sewage n > 1) (Rohwerder and Sand, 2003, 2008), but the amino acid sludge, spent household batteries, mine tailings, and printed sequences of SDO were not identified at that time. circuit boards (Pathak et al., 2009; Bayat and Sari, 2010; Arshadi In recent years, SDO activity was also detected in the and Mousavi, 2014; Ijadi Bajestani et al., 2014; Nguyen et al., 2015; mitochondria of plants and animals and in heterotrophic Rastegar et al., 2015). Moreover, these bacteria have been widely bacteria, and protein sequences were identified in these studied in microbial desulfurization of coal and gas (Azizan organisms. This enzyme was originally named as SDO in et al., 2000; He et al., 2012; Charnnok et al., 2013). Taken Acidithiobacillus spp. Based on the further studies, two together, Acidithiobacillus spp. have shown their great value of new names, ETHE1 and persulfide dioxygenase (PDO), were applications not only in metal leaching (copper, uranium, gold proposed for SDO homologs in mitochondria and heterotrophic and so on) from mineral ores, but also in solving environmental bacteria, respectively (Jackson et al., 2012; Kabil and Banerjee, pollution problems caused by heavy metals and inorganic sulfur 2012; Liu H. et al., 2014; Sattler et al., 2015). To avoid any compounds. confusion, here we use SDO throughout this paper to refer Sulfur oxidation, as the essential physiological feature of to this enzyme in Acidithiobacillus spp. The mitochondrial Acidithiobacillus spp. and the important character for their ETHE1s identified in human and Arabidopsis both belong to application, has attracted extensive attention (Suzuki and the metallo-b-lactamase superfamily, and their metal-binding Werkman, 1959; London, 1963; London and Rittenberg, 1964; active sites consist of an aspartate and two histidine residues Suzuki et al., 1992; Hallberg et al., 1996; Quatrini et al., (Tiranti et al., 2009; Holdorf et al., 2012). Based on phylogenetic 2009; Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; Wang et al., 2016; analysis, heterotrophic bacterial PDOs were classified into three Nunez et al., 2017; Zhang et al., 2018). The element sulfur subgroups (Liu H. et al., 2014). Structural analyses indicated can exist in various oxidation states ranging from -2 to C6, that the PDOs in heterotrophic bacteria contained the conserved which results in a variety of RISCs including tetrathionate amino acid residues, and differences in the GS-moiety binding 2 2 2 2 (S O ), thiosulfate (S O ), sulfite (SO ), sulfide (S ), sites of the key amino acid residues supported grouping of 4 6 2 3 3 and elemental sulfur (S ). A variety of enzymes and proteins PDOs (Sattler et al., 2015). The major physiological function involved in the oxidation of RISCs were discovered, including of SDOs in mitochondria or in heterotrophic bacteria has sulfur-oxidizing enzymes, sulfur transferases and sulfur carrier been proposed: ETHE1s/ PDOs works cooperatively with proteins. The sulfur-metabolic enzymes in Acidithiobacillus spp., sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase (SQR) to oxidize H S, relieving based on their substrates, can be categorized as elemental sulfur the toxic effect of H S to the cells (Guimaraes et al., 2011; Kabil oxidation enzymes, enzymes in thiosulfate oxidation pathways, and Banerjee, 2012; Liu H. et al., 2014). Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 2 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 3 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus TABLE 1 | Taxonomic traits of seven species in the genus of Acidithiobacillus. Trait A. ferrooxidans A. ferrivorans A. ferriphilus A. ferridurans A. thiooxidans A. caldus A. albertensis Gram stain Cell size (mm) 1.0  0.5 2.4  0.5 1–2 1–2 1.0–2.0  0.5 1.2–1.9  0.7 1–2  0.4–0.6 Motility C/ C C C C C C Growth pH 1.3–4.5 (2.0–2.5) 1.9–3.4 (2.5) 1.5 (2.0) 1.4–3.0 (2.1) 0.5–5.5 (2.0–3.0) 1.0–3.5 (2.0–2.5) 0.5-6.0 (3.5–4.0) (optimum) Growth T/ C 10–37 (30–35) 4–37 (28–33) 5–33 (30) 10–37 (29) 10–37 (28–30) 32–52 (40–45) 10–40 (25–30) (optimum) Oxidation of S , C C C C C C C 2 2 S O , S O 4 6 2 3 2C Oxidation of Fe C C C C Growth on sulfide C C C C minerals Growth on C (C) C C NR hydrogen Anaerobic growth C C C C 3C with Fe N fixation C C NR NR Mol% GCC 58–59 55–56 57.4 58.4 52 63–64 61.5 Thiosulfate- TSD enzyme; S I Sox system; TSD NR TSD enzyme; S I Sox system; S I Sox system; S I Sox system; S I 4 4 4 4 4 metabolic pathway enzyme; S I pathway pathway pathway pathway pathways pathway Reference Janiczek et al., Hallberg et al., Falagan and Hedrich and Valdés et al., Valdés et al., Bryant et al., 2007; Valdés 2010; Hedrich Johnson, Johnson, 2008b; Hallberg 2008b; Hallberg 1983; Xia et al., et al., 2008a,b; and Johnson, 2016 2013a,b; et al., 2010; Yin et al., 2010; 2007; Castro Hallberg et al., 2013b; Christel Miyauchi et al., et al., 2014 Mangold et al., et al., 2017 2010; Hedrich et al., 2016 2018 2011; Hedrich and Johnson, and Johnson, 2013b; Kikumoto 2013b et al., 2013 C, positive; , negative; C/, the positive or negative result from different reports; (C), some strains have the ability to oxidize hydrogen; NR, not reported; Tm, temperature. Sulfur dioxygenase in Acidithiobacillus spp. was previously SDO1 and its homologs form a new subgroup distinct from proposed to serve as the first enzyme for extracellular elemental the well described subgroups (ETHE1, Blh, SdoA), named sulfur oxidation. This was concluded from a SDO-dependent as SdoS, whereas the SDO2 of A. caldus and its homologs sulfur oxidation model: extracellular elemental sulfur was belong to the ETHE1 subgroup (Figure 1; Wu et al., 2017). first activated by thiol-containing outer-membrane proteins to Phylogenetic analysis also revealed that some potential SDOs generate persulfide sulfane sulfur, and this product was further from A. thiooxidans belong to the SdoA subgroup (Figure 1). oxidized by periplasmic SDO to produce sulfite (Rohwerder Studies on the SDOs indicated the ubiquitous existence of this and Sand, 2003). The nucleotide and amino acid sequences of elemental sulfur-oxidizing enzyme in these chemoautotrophic SDO in Acidithiobacillus spp. were not identified until 2014 sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. (Wang et al., 2014). Two homologs of human ETHE1, AFE_0269 Recently, further phylogenetic analysis on bacterial PDOs in A. ferrooxidans ATCC 23270 and A5904_0790 in A. caldus suggested PDOs can be reclassified into three types (Xia et al., MTH-04, exhibited a remarkable GSH-dependent SDO activity 2017). The subgroups of SdoA and Blh were categorized into in in vitro assays (Wang et al., 2014). Recently, a second SDO the type II PDOs, and ETHE1 homologous proteins are grouped (A5904_0421, termed SDO1), with 33% amino acid identity to as type I PDOs. The type III PDOs exhibited low sequence previously identified Ac-SDO (A5904_0790, termed SDO2), was identities with the type I and type II PDOs. According to the identified in A. caldus MTH-04. The enzymatic activity of SDO1 new classification of PDOs, the SDOs in the SdoS subgroup is much lower than that of SDO2 (Wu et al., 2017). The latest belong to the type III category. Studies on SDOs in SdoS and study on ETHE1-like SDO (SDO2 homolog) from A. caldus ETHE1 subgroups found that there are obvious differences in C-SH12 suggested that AcSDO is a homotetramer containing a the key amino acid residues of the substrate binding regions mononuclear iron site with a 2-His-1-carboxylate facial triad in (unpublished data), indicating different functions of SDO1 and the active site. The key amino acid residues of this protein were SDO2 in the process of sulfur oxidation in Acidithiobacillus spp. described recently (Ruhl et al., 2018). The role of SDOs in sulfur oxidation in Acidithiobacillus was There are two to three copies of SDO paralogs in different studied using sdo deletion and overexpression strains. When species of Acidithiobacillus (Figure 1; Wu et al., 2017). A. caldus grown in liquid S -medium, the sdo (AFE_0269) mutant of Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 3 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 4 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus FIGURE 1 | Phylogenetic analysis of SDOs in Acidithiobacillus spp. and other typical prokaryotes. MEGA 5.0 with the bootstrap test (1000 replicates) were used to construct NJ-tree. The protein ID or locus_tag of each SDO is present in parentheses. The predicted functional domains of proteins whose sequences identities are higher than 30% are selected for this phylogenetic analysis. A. ferrooxidans ATCC 23270 grew much slower than the wild a sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase), respectively (Wu et al., 2017). type. Moreover, cell extracts of the mutant still maintained the In contrary to the previous hypothesis that SDO functioned in 0 2C SDO activity when cultivated in S - or Fe - medium (Wang the oxidation of persulfide sulfane sulfur in periplasm, it is now et al., 2014). No significant differences in growth were observed believed that all the SDO homologs in Acidithiobacillus spp. among the three sdo mutants of A. caldus MTH-04 (1sdo1, are cytoplasmic proteins due to the lack of signal peptides and 1sdo2, and 1sdo1&2) and the wild type strain in S -media, transmembrane regions (Wu et al., 2017). Therefore, based on the and the SDO activities of cell extracts from these mutants were current knowledge, SDOs in Acidithiobacillus spp. are believed not lower than that from wild type (Wu et al., 2017). All these to be involved in cytoplasmic elemental sulfur oxidation, and results indicated that the absence of SDOs in A. ferrooxidans different subgroups of SDOs are probably responsible for the and A. caldus neither impaired their elemental sulfur oxidation oxidation of elemental sulfur generated by different pathways: activities nor caused lethal effects on their growth rates in S - the ETHE1-subgroup of SDOs are involved in the H S-oxidation media. It was suggested that SDO1 in A. caldus is involved pathway and the SdoS-subgroup of SDOs are related to the 2 2 in the S O metabolic process, because when cultivated in S O -decomposition pathway (Wu et al., 2017). 4 6 4 6 tetrathionate at a concentration of 2.27 g/L, strains 1sdo1 Sulfur oxygenase reductase (SOR) is another elemental sulfur and 1sdo1&2 did not exhibit any OD increase in growth oxidizing enzyme found in Acidithiobacillus spp. This enzyme, experiments (Wu et al., 2017). Transcriptional analysis on sdo first reported in several acidophilic and thermophilic archaea, deletion and overexpression strains of A. caldus showed that the can catalyze the disproportionation of cytoplasmic elemental transcription levels of sdo1 and sdo2 had close linkages to those sulfur and generate thiosulfate, sulfite, and sulfide (Kletzin, 1989; of tetH (encoding a tetrathionate hydrolase) and sqr (encoding Kletzin et al., 2004; Ghosh and Dam, 2009). The reaction is Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 4 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 5 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus dioxygen (O )-dependent with no external cofactors or electron horizontal gene transfer (Figure 2). Moreover, the sor gene could donors required, and the oxidation is coupled with neither be eliminated via transposition in strain MTH-04 of A. caldus electron transfer nor substrate-level phosphorylation (Kletzin, (Figure 3; Chen et al., 2012). For our laboratory strain MTH-04, 1989; Urich et al., 2004). The SORs from archaeal and bacterial both the electrotransformation of suicide plasmid specific for sor species are large hollow spheres consisting of 24 identical gene mutagenesis and the continuous passage in S -media in the subunits. Each SOR monomer has a catalytic pocket containing laboratory cultivation environment resulted in the loss of sor gene an indispensable cysteine and a low-potential non-heme iron site (Figure 3). The tendency of eliminating the sor gene in A. caldus, (Urich et al., 2006; Li et al., 2008). the sporadic distribution and the relatively low retention rate Although SOR activity from A. caldus SM-1 cultivated in of the sor gene in Acidithiobacillus spp. indicate that SOR is bioreactors treating gold-bearing concentrates was reported supplementary (You et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Janosch et al., (Chen et al., 2007), a subsequent study indicated that the sor 2015; Christel et al., 2016), but not necessary, for cytoplasmic gene was absent in the complete genome sequence of this elemental sulfur oxidation in these sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. strain (You et al., 2011). Sequence analysis of SOR proteins indicated that the SOR ascribed to A. caldus SM-1, was actually Heterodisulfide Reductase (Hdr)-Like isolated from Sulfobacillus contaminated sample (Figure 2; System Janosch et al., 2015). The SOR homolog was found in our laboratorial strain A. caldus MTH-04, and the overexpression A Hdr-like complex is proposed to serve as an elemental sulfur of sor in A. caldus MTH-04 increased SOR activity by 22.2% oxidation enzyme in the cytoplasmic space of Acidithiobacillus and meanwhile resulted in a growth advantage after the mid- and many other sulfur-oxidizing bacteria and archaea (Quatrini log phase (unpublished data). SOR was defined as a cytoplasmic et al., 2009; Mangold et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Inskeep et al., S -oxidizing enzyme based on studies on a sor deficient mutant 2013; Yin et al., 2014; Liu L.J. et al., 2014; Dahl, 2015; Christel of A. caldus MTH-04 (Chen et al., 2012). SOR homologs have et al., 2016). Proteins of the Hdr-like system from bacterial and been found in some, but not all, strains of A. thiooxidans, archaeal sulfur oxidizers are homologous to those in the HdrABC A. ferrooxidans, A. ferrivorans, A. albertensis (Figure 2; Valdés complex from methanogenic archaea, sulfate-reducing archaea et al., 2008b; Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016). Phylogenetic and sulfate-reducing bacteria (Hedderich et al., 2005). HdrABC analysis indicated that the SORs in these Acidithiobacillus spp. is a unique disulfide reductase that catalyzes the reversible strains were probably acquired from sulfur-oxidizing archaea via reduction of the disulfide bond X-S-S-X coupled with the energy FIGURE 2 | Phylogenetic analysis of SORs in some Acidithiobacillus spp. and other typical prokaryotes. MEGA 5.0 with the bootstrap test (1000 replicates) were used to construct NJ-tree. The protein ID or locus_tag of each SOR is present in parentheses. The predicted functional domains of proteins whose sequences identities are higher than 30% are selected for this phylogenetic analysis. The SOR reported from Acidithiobacillus caldus SM-1 was actually SOR from Sulfobacillus spp. Thus, it was marked as “A. caldus SM-1” in the phylogenetic tree (Chen et al., 2007; Janosch et al., 2015). Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 5 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 6 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus FIGURE 3 | The loci of the sor gene on the genomes of different A. caldus strains. Original-MTH, A. caldus MTH-04 wild type harboring sor gene (the sor-sqr gene cluster sequence GenBank: MK165447); MTH-1sor, A. caldus MTH-04 sor mutant generated by electroporation of the suicide plasmid (the sqr gene cluster sequence GenBank: MK165449); MTH-04, A. caldus MTH-04 wild type lacking sor gene (GenBank: CP026328.1); SM-1, A. caldus SM-1 (GenBank: CP002573.1); ACA, A. caldus ATCC 51765 (GenBank:CP005986.1); potA, ABC transporter ATP-binding protein; ISAtc1, IS elements; tps1&2, transposase; sor, sulfur oxygenase reductase; sqr, sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase; hyp, hypothetical protein. The gene locus on the chromosome was shown below the corresponding gene. conservation (Thauer et al., 2008; Kaster et al., 2011; Wagner sulfur carrier TusA to sulfite, and the released electrons in the et al., 2017). Studies have shown that the HdrABC complex reaction might be transferred via LbpA to generate NADH (Cao is composed of three subunits: HdrA carrying a typical FAD et al., 2018). The confirmation of the sulfur-oxidizing ability of binding motif and four binding motifs for [4Fe-4S] clusters, HdrB Hdr-like complex and the sulfur-metabolizing process catalyzed harboring two identical non-cubane [4Fe-4S] clusters and both of by this system in H. denitrificans, would undoubtedly provide these clusters are consisted of [3Fe-4S] and [2Fe-2S] subclusters, new insights in the elemental sulfur oxidation in the cytoplasm and the ferredoxin-like HdrC containing two binding motifs for of Acidithiobacillus spp., and promote research on the Hdr-like [4Fe-4S] clusters (Hamann et al., 2007; Wagner et al., 2017). In complex in these sulfur-oxidizers. methanogenic and sulfate-reducing archaea, HdrA receives the The presence of SDO, SOR, and Hdr-like complex in electrons from a hydrogenase and transfers them through HdrC Acidithiobacillus spp. indicates the diversity and complexity of to the heterodisulfide reductase catalytic site on HdrB (Mander elemental sulfur oxidation in these acidophilic bacteria. The et al., 2004). Unlike the HdrABC complex, the Hdr-like system in triple sor-sdo1-sdo2 mutant of A. caldus MTH-04 exhibited sulfur-oxidizing bacteria and archaea is encoded by a hdrC1B1A- an increased elemental sulfur oxidation activity, indicating the hyp-hdrC2B2 gene cluster and consists of at least five subunits existence of undetermined elemental sulfur oxidation enzymes (HdrA, HdrB1, HdrB2, HdrC1, and HdrC2) (Boughanemi et al., in Acidithiobacillus spp. (Wu et al., 2017). Direct and conclusive 2016). evidences are needed to confirm the function of Hdr-like complex Hdr-like systems have been discovered in different species in these Acidithiobacillus strains. In addition, the distinct of Acidithiobacillus, and the function of this complex was roles, the potential cooperative effects and regulation modes of proposed to be oxidation of disulfide intermediates (most likely the three cytoplasmic elemental sulfur oxidation enzymes in sulfane sulfur as in GSSH or other sulfur carriers) to sulfite Acidithiobacillus spp. could be the emphasis of future researches. in the cytoplasm (Quatrini et al., 2009; Mangold et al., 2011; Sulfur Trafficking in Acidithiobacillus Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016; Koch and Dahl, 2018.) The transcriptional levels of hdr genes The sulfur carrier proteins TusA and DsrE exist in many sulfur were upregulated when A. ferrooxidans or A. thiooxidans were oxidation bacteria and archaea (Liu L.J. et al., 2014; Dahl, cultivated in sulfur-containing media (Ehrenfeld et al., 2013). 2015). The rhd-tusA-dsrE genes were reported in A. caldus and HdrC from A. ferrooxidans was heterologously expressed and A. ferrooxidans, and these genes, together with the Hdr-like system the recombinant protein harbored [4Fe–4S] clusters (Ossa Henao gene cluster (hdrC1B1A-hyp-hdrC2B2) and sulfite-oxidation- et al., 2011). However, biochemical evidence confirming the enzyme genes (soeABC), exist in one gene cluster in A. caldus SM- function of Hdr-like systems is still absent. Recently, an indirect 1 (soeABC-mogA-rhd-tusA-dsrE-hdrC1-hdrB1-hdrA-hyp-hdrC2- genetic study indicated that a Hdr-like complex functions hdrB2, Atc_2359-2347) (Liu L.J. et al., 2014). Similar gene clusters in the oxidation of thiosulfate to sulfite in Hyphomicrobium can also be found in other species of Acidithiobacillus (unpublished denitrificans (Koch and Dahl, 2018). Moreover, a lipoate-binding data). The unique gene arrangement character suggests potential protein (LbpA) was identified as a necessary component for the functional connections among elemental sulfur oxidation (Hdr- Hdr-like sulfur-oxidizing system in H. denitrificans (Cao et al., like complex), Rhd-DsrE-TusA-mediated sulfur transfer and 2018). Thus, a sulfur oxidation pathway was proposed in which sulfite oxidation in the cytoplasm of Acidithiobacillus spp. Studies the Hdr-like complex oxidizes the sulfane sulfur delivered by the on the sulfur-trafficking proteins from Metallosphaera cuprina Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 6 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 7 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus and Allochromatium vinosum indicated that inorganic sulfur Ghosh and Dam, 2009). In acidic environments (pH < 4.0), compounds were successively transferred by Rhd, DsrE, and TusA thiosulfate can decompose to sulfur and sulfite chemically to form sulfane sulfur at the cysteine of TusA (Liu L.J. et al., 2014; (Johnston and McAmish, 1973), and the generated sulfur exists Stockdreher et al., 2014; Dahl, 2015). TusA serves as a central as colloidal sulfur that cannot be used by Acidithiobacillus component of cytoplasmic sulfur trafficking in sulfur-oxidizing spp. To efficiently metabolize thiosulfate, all the species in the prokaryotes (Dahl, 2015), and might deliver the sulfane sulfur genus Acidithiobacillus possess complicated thiosulfate-oxidizing to the Hdr-like sulfur-oxidizing system (Cao et al., 2018). Thus, multi-enzyme systems to immediately oxidize thiosulfate and TusA can be considered as a joint between sulfur trafficking sulfur-transfer enzymes to transform the thiosulfate to other mediated by Rhd/DsrE/TusA and the sulfur oxidation catalyzed forms of sulfur-substrates (Valdés et al., 2008b). by Hdr-like complex in these sulfur-oxidizers. The discovery of conserved genetic clusters in several Acidithiobacillus species S I Pathway suggested that similar sulfur trafficking and oxidation pathways A thiosulfate oxidation pathway via formation of tetrathionate as might also work in the cytoplasm of these sulfur-oxidizers. Thus, an intermediate (S I) is widely found in b- and g- proteobacteria, it would be interesting to perform further protein characterization particularly in obligately chemolithotrophic genera including assays in vitro and gene function studies in vivo to confirm the Acidithiobacillus, Thermithiobacillus, Halothiobacillus, and function of these proteins in the process of sulfur trafficking and Tetrathiobacter (Dam et al., 2007; Ghosh and Dam, 2009). The oxidation in Acidithiobacillus spp. S I pathway is made up of a thiosulfate:quinol oxidoreductase Rhodanese (Rhd) might be an important functional enzyme (TQO or DoxDA) and a tetrathionate hydrolase (TetH or in sulfur trafficking and sulfur oxidation of Acidithiobacillus TTH). TQO oxidizes thiosulfate to tetrathionate while TetH (Quatrini et al., 2009; Chen et al., 2012; Liu L.J. et al., 2014; hydrolyzes tetrathionate to thiosulfate and other products. The Yin et al., 2014; Koch and Dahl, 2018). Rhd belongs to the fact that the predicted tetH and doxDA genes are found in all sulfurtransferase family, which is found in organisms from all the published genomes of Acidithiobacillus (Table 1), indicates three domains of life and involved in various cellular processes the universality and importance of the S I pathway in these (Smit and Urbanska, 1986; Aminlari and Gilanpour, 1991; acidophilic chemotrophic bacteria (Rzhepishevska et al., 2007; Cipollone et al., 2007). This enzyme is a thiosulfate:cyanide Wang et al., 2016). As shown in Figure 4, tetH and doxDA sulfur transferase (TST), which cleaves the S–S bond present are arranged in a cluster in A. caldus and A. thiooxidans, while in thiosulfate, producing sulfur and sulfite. Rhd activities they are located separately in the genomes of A. ferrooxidans, were detected in crude enzyme extracts of A. ferrooxidans, A. ferrivorans, and A. ferridurans. Two copies of doxDA genes A. thiooxidans and A. caldus (Tabita et al., 1969; Gardner are located separately in the genomes of A. ferrooxidans and and Rawlings, 2000). Genomic sequences revealed that there A. ferridurans. There are two-component systems (TCSs) located are multiple copies of putative rhd genes in the genomes of upstream of the tetH genes in A. caldus, A. ferrooxidans, and Acidithiobacillus (Valdés et al., 2008a, 2011; Liljeqvist et al., A. ferridurans. Moreover, the transcription of tetH and doxDA 2011; Yin et al., 2014). A 21-kDa rhodanese-like protein (P21) is influenced significantly by different sulfur-substrates in the of A. ferrooxidans was induced when cells were grown on media (Mangold et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; metal sulfides and different sulfur compounds, but the purified Christel et al., 2016), indicating that Acidithiobacillus spp. can recombinant P21 protein did not show Rhd activity in vitro modulate the S I pathway at the transcriptional level in response (Ramírez et al., 2002). Furtherly, eight rhodanese-like proteins to the various sulfur-metabolites in the growth environment. from A. ferrooxidans were cloned and expressed in E. coli. Some Thiosulfate:quinol oxidoreductase (TQO), first discovered of the recombinant proteins had the Rhd activities, and the in Acidianus ambivalens (A. ambivalens), is composed of two others including the P21 did not show this activity, indicating 28-kDa DoxA and two 16-kDa DoxD subunits that formed the potential different physiological roles of these rhodanese-like a a b -tetramer (Muller et al., 2004). The membrane-bound 2 2 proteins in this bacterium (Acosta et al., 2005). Rhd probably TQO oxidizes thiosulfate to tetrathionate, and ferricyanide or plays an essential role in sulfur oxidation in A. caldus since we had decylubiquinone (DQ) takes the electrons generated from this no success in the deletion of the rhd gene in the hdr-rhd-tusA-dsrE reaction to the electron transport chain (Muller et al., 2004). gene cluster (Zhang et al., 2014). Further bioinformatics analysis Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the subunits DoxD and of these Rhd proteins is needed to reveal the sequence similarities DoxA are fused into one protein in Acidithiobacillus spp. and potential protein localizations in these autotrophic sulfur- (Wang et al., 2016; Figure 4), indicating differences of TQOs oxidizing bacteria. between archaeal and bacterial species. Until now, the catalytic mechanism of TQO in Acidithiobacillus spp. is still unclear, and the functional role of TQO in sulfur oxidation needs to be further confirmed experimentally. THIOSULFATE OXIDATION The hydrolysis of tetrathionate by tetrathionate hydrolase has Thiosulfate (S O ) plays an important role in the been studied extensively in Acidithiobacillus, including enzymatic 2 3 biogeochemical sulfur cycle. It is a common substrate and properties, protein localization and function in the sulfur- a key sulfur-metabolic intermediate oxidized by almost all metabolic network (Ralf et al., 1987; de Jong et al., 1997; sulfur-oxidizing microorganisms, thus thiosulfate metabolism Bugaytsova and Lindstrom, 2004; Kanao et al., 2010, 2018; Beard is essential for these sulfur-oxidizers (Dahl and Prange, 2006; et al., 2011; Yu et al., 2014). The fact that 1tetH strains of Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 7 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 8 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus FIGURE 4 | Arrangement of genes of S I pathways in Acidithiobacillus spp. and sulfur-oxidizing archaea. The percentages of similarities between protein sequences are indicated by the values marked in the gene. Accession numbers (GenBank) for these proteins are: A. caldus MTH-04, RsrR (ANJ65973.1), RsrS (ANJ65974.1), TetH (OAN03451.1), DoxDA (OAN03452.1) (GenBank: MK165448); A. caldus SM-1, RsrR (AEK59530.1), RsrS (AEK58242.1), TetH (AEK58243.1), DoxDA (AEK58244.1); A. caldus ATCC 51756, RsrR (ABP38227.1), RsrS (ABP38226.1), TetH (ABP38225.1), DoxDA (ABP38224.1); Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans ATCC 23270, TcsS (ACK79489.1), TcsR (ACK79259.1), TetH (ACK80599.1), DoxDA_2 (ACK79881.1), DoxDA_1 (ACK78481.1); A. ferrooxidans ATCC 53993, TcsS (ACH82290.1), TscR (ACH82291.1), TetH (ACH82292.1), DoxDA_2(ACH82311.1), DoxDA_1(ACH82307.1); A.thiooxidans ATCC 19377, TetH (WP_029316048.1), DoxDA (WP_010638552.1); A.thiooxidans A01, TetH (WP_024894935.1), DoxDA (WP_024894934.1); Acidithiobacillus ferridurans JCM 18981, TcsS (BBF65177.1), TcsR (BBF65176.1), TetH (BBF65175.1),DoxDA_2 (BBF65156.1),DoxDA_1 (BBF65160.1); Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans SS3, TetH (AEM46280.1), DoxDA (AEM47534.1); Acidianus hospitalis W1, TetH (AEE94548.1), DoxD_1 (AEE93006.1), DoxA_1 (AEE93005.1), DoxA_2 (AEE93131.1), DoxD_2 (AEE93130.1); Acidianus ambivalens DSM 3772, TetH (CBY66038.1), DoxD (CAA69986.1), DoxA(CAA69987.1). A. ferrooxidans and A. caldus could not survive in tetrathionate- Lindstrom, 2004). These different results are probably due to the medium but could grow on other sulfur-substrates, indicates differences in the detection methods or the protein components that tetrathionate-metabolism in these sulfur-oxidizing bacteria used in the assays. It is possible that the final products of TetH- is TetH-dependent (van Zyl et al., 2008; Yu et al., 2014). In mediated reactions in Acidithiobacillus spp. are thiosulfate, sulfur addition to its role in tetrathionate hydrolysis, a ferric reductase and sulfate, even though the intermediate metabolites may exist. activity associated with TetH was reported for A. ferrooxidans as Meanwhile, the catalytic mechanism of TetH is still unclear. well (Sugio et al., 2009). Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of TetH TetH proteins purified from A. thiooxidans, A. ferrooxidans, from A. ferrooxidans was published (Kanao et al., 2013). The and A. caldus are all homodimers and the optimal activities crystal of recombinant Af-TetH was a hexagonal cylinder with are detected under acidic conditions (pH 3.0–4.0) (Hazeu et al., dimensions of 0.2 mm  0.05 mm  0.05 mm, and the crystal 1988; Sugio et al., 1996; Tano et al., 1996; Bugaytsova and diffracted to 2.15 Å resolution. However, the three-dimensional Lindstrom, 2004; Kanao et al., 2007, 2018; Beard et al., 2011). structure was not obtained until now. It was reported that the Studies on the products of tetrathionate hydrolysis catalyzed by sole cysteine residue (Cys301) in Af-TetH was involved in neither TetH proteins from different species of Acidithiobacillus yielded the tetrathionate hydrolysis reaction nor the subunit assembly, conflicting results. When suspensions of A. ferrooxidans were indicating a novel cysteine-independent reaction mechanism for used in the assays, polythionates (up to S O ) and sulfur rings this enzyme (Kanao et al., 2014). 13 6 (S , containing 98% S , and small amounts of S , S , S and Different speculations on the localization of TetH in 8 6 7 9; S ) were detected in tetrathionate hydrolysates (Ralf et al., 1987). Acidithiobacillus spp. were made based on the results of indirect However, using the pure enzyme from A. ferrooxidans, the end biochemical assays. Both the low optimal pH (4) for TetH products were thiosulfate, sulfur and sulfate (de Jong et al., 1997). activities and the purification of TetH proteins from the soluble TetH assays for A. thiooxidans showed that thiosulfate was a fraction implied that TetH proteins from A. ferrooxidans and main product of tetrathionate decomposition and the thiosulfate A. thiooxidans were periplasmic proteins (Tano et al., 1996; de probably was further decomposed to generate elemental sulfur Jong et al., 1997; Kanao et al., 2007). The TetH activity analysis (Tano et al., 1996). In contrast, for A. caldus, thiosulfate and on different fractionations of A. caldus cells indicated TetH was a pentathionate were detected after TetH assays (Bugaytsova and potential periplasmic protein (Bugaytsova and Lindstrom, 2004). Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 8 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 9 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus However, the requirement of an acidic environment in the in vitro Comparative analysis of the published genomic sequences refolding experiments on recombinant Af-TetH indicated TetH from species of the genus Acidithiobacillus indicated that probably localized in the outer membrane of A. ferrooxidans sox clusters without soxCD genes are present in A. caldus, (Kanao et al., 2010). Results based on marine A. thiooxidans strain A. thiooxidans, A. albertensis and A. ferrivorans, but not found SH also suggested that TetH locates on the outer membrane of in A. ferrooxidans strains (Figure 5 and Table 1; Valdés et al., the cell (Kanao et al., 2018). Another research group proposed 2008b; Talla et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016; Castro et al., 2017). that TetH in A. ferrooxidans was probably secreted to the Two separate sox clusters are present in A. caldus, A. thiooxidans extracellular space (Beard et al., 2011). Signal peptides of TetHs and A. albertensis. One cluster is arranged in the order soxXYZA- from different strains of Acidithiobacillus spp. were predicted in hyp-soxB that is located downstream of a sigma54-dependent bioinformatics analysis (unpublished data), implying TetH was two component system tspS-tspR (termed as sox-II cluster), the secreted into the periplasm of these sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. other one was soxYZB-hyp-resB-soxAX-resC (termed as sox-I Further immunocytochemical experiments and micro-imaging cluster). Only the sox-II-like cluster was found in A. ferrivorans technologies are required to obtain conclusive evidence for the (Figure 5). localization of this enzyme. Due to the absence of Sox(CD) protein in the Sox system of Acidithiobacillus, two possible ways for SoxYZ regeneration Sox System in bacteria with the truncated Sox pathway were proposed, The sulfur oxidizing enzyme (Sox) system, a typical periplasmic including the cleavage of sulfur atom of the sulfane intermediate multi-enzyme system, was first found in lithoautotrophic (SoxYZ–S–S ) and the oxidation of SoxYZ–S–S by the Paracoccus pantotrophus (Friedrich et al., 2000, 2005). This predicted sulfur dioxygenase (SDO) (Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., complex has been thought to be widely distributed among 2014). Since it is hypothetized that SDO is located in cytoplasm the various phylogenetic groups of photo- and chemo- where it oxidizes the elemental sulfur to sulfite (Wu et al., 2017), lithotrophic sulfur-oxidizing prokaryotes (summarized by Ghosh it is inferred that the sulfur atom of the sulfane intermediate and Dam, 2009; Frigaard and Dahl, 2009). The Sox system (SoxYZ-S-S ) should be cleaved to form elemental sulfur via in P. pantotrophus is made up of four components: SoxXA, an unknown mechanism, so that SoxYZ is regenerated. As a SoxYZ, SoxB, and Sox(CD) (Friedrich et al., 2005). This typical consequence, studies on SoxYZ regeneration and sulfur globule Sox system has the capability of oxidizing thiosulfate, sulfide, accumulation are important for uncovering the catalytic process sulfite, and elemental sulfur to sulfate as the final product of the truncated Sox system in Acidithiobacillus spp. (summarized by Ghosh and Dam, 2009). Thiosulfate oxidation Thiosulfate Dehydrogenase (TSD) is the core of this oxidation pathway: first, SoxXA catalyzes the reaction between the sulfane sulfur of thiosulfate and the The first report on the thiosulfate dehydrogenase in SoxY-cysteine-sulfhydryl group of the SoxYZ complex, forming Acidithiobacillus was released by Silver and Lundgren a cysteine S-thiosulfonate derivative (SoxYZ-S-S-SO ); second, (1968b), that the thiosulfate-oxidizing enzyme purified from SoxB hydrolyzes sulfate (SO ) from the terminal sulfone (- A. ferrooxidans oxidizes one mole of thiosulfate to produce SO ) group of SoxYZ complex; third, Sox(CD) oxidizes the 0.5 mole of tetrathionate. The optimal pH for this thiosulfate- 3 2 sulfane sulfur (–S ) of the residual SoxY-cysteine persulfide oxidizing enzyme was 5.0 and no cofactor was required for this (SoxYZ-S-S ) to cysteine-S-sulfate (SoxYZ-S-SO ); eventually, reaction (Silver and Lundgren, 1968b). Janiczek et al. (2007) the sulfonate moiety (-SO ) is hydrolyzed again by SoxB, described that the purified TSD from A. ferrooxidans was a regenerating SoxYZ (summarized by Ghosh and Dam, 2009; tetramer consisting of four identical subunits of 45 kDa and its Welte et al., 2009; Zander et al., 2011). However, in contrast optimal activity was observed at pH 3.0. It was not until 2013, to the current Sox metabolic models, a new discovery on the that the gene (AFE_0042) encoding thiosulfate dehydrogenase intermediates of the Sox pathway was reported: it was proposed (25 kDa) was identified by Kikumoto et al. (2013) Maximum that instead of cysteine S-thiosulfonate (SoxYZ-S-(S)-SO ), enzyme activity appeared at pH 2.5 and 70 C, but this enzyme SoxYZ that conjugates with multiple sulfane atoms (SoxYZ- could reduce neither ubiquinone nor horse heart cytochrome S-(S) -SO , n  2) is the true carrier species in the Sox c. The low pH optimum of TSD indicated that this enzyme n 3 pathway (Grabarczyk and Berks, 2017). In addition, Sox(CD) probably metabolized thiosulfate in the periplasmic space. It was is absent in a wide range of the Sox-system-dependent sulfur- reported that different TSDs were purified from A. thiooxidans oxidizing bacteria. In the Sox pathway that lacks Sox(CD) (Nakamura et al., 2001), but the corresponding gene sequences (so-called truncated Sox pathway), the sulfur atom of the are unidentified. sulfane intermediate (SoxYZ-S-S ) is probably fed into other Using the protein sequence of AFE_0042 in A. ferrooxidans as Sox pathways or transformed into storage forms of sulfur the reference sequence, another potential TSD (AFE_0050) was (summarized by Ghosh and Dam, 2009; Welte et al., 2009). In discovered in A. ferrooxidans with 76% identities to the protein recent years, structural and biological studies on Sox proteins, sequence of AFE_0042. These two copies of tsd genes, together including the analysis of their three-dimensional structures and with other thiosulfate-oxidation-related genes (doxDA and rhd), the identification of active sites, have provided more information are arranged in a unique thiosulfate-metabolic gene cluster in regarding the catalytic mechanism of the Sox system at atomic- the genome of A. ferrooxidans (Figure 6). This thiosulfate gene level resolution (Bamford et al., 2002; Sauve et al., 2007, 2009; cluster was also discovered in A. ferridurans, but does not exist in Bradley et al., 2012; Grabarczyk et al., 2015). A. ferrivorans that contains TSD (Figure 6). However, no TSD Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 9 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 10 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus FIGURE 5 | The sox clusters in A. caldus and A. thiooxidans. The percentages of similarities between protein sequences are indicated by the values marked in the gene. A. caldus MTH-04: sox I (Gene ID: A5904_10510-10475), sox II (A5904_11270- 11305); A. caldus ATCC 51756: sox I (Acaty_c2059- c2052), sox II (Acaty_c2206-c2213); A. caldus SM-1: sox I (Atc_2217-2209), sox II (Atc_2363-2370); A. thiooxidans ATCC19377: sox I (ATHIO_RS0100375-RS0100340), sox II (ATHIO_RS0101665-RS0101630); A. thiooxidans A01: sox I (X795_RS0118310-RS0118345), sox II (RS0104295-RS0104260); A.albertensis DSM 14366: sox I (BLW97_RS03815-RS03850), sox II (BLW97_RS11430-RS11465); A. ferrivorans SS3: sox II (Acife_2487–2494). FIGURE 6 | Schematic map of the thiosulfate-metabolic gene clusters in A. ferrooxidans and other Acidithiobacillus sp. tsd, thiosulfate dehydrogenase; sbp, sulfate/molybdate binding protein; doxDA, thiosulfate:quinol oxidoreductase; rhd, rhodanese-like domain-containing protein; resA, thiol-disulfide oxidoreductase. The numbers after tsd, sbp, doxDA and rhd were there to differentiate the two copies of these genes in the cluster. The identities of TSD1 and TSD2, SBP1 and SBP2, DoxDA1 and DoxDA2 in A. ferrooxidans are 76, 74, and 71%, respectively. homologs are found in A. caldus or A. thiooxidans (Table 1). for sulfur- and ferrous-oxidizing bacteria (A. ferrooxidans, A. The conflict between the absence of TSD homologs and the ferridurans, and A. ferrivorans). reported TSD activity in A. thiooxidans should be clarified in The most intensively studied tetrathionate-forming further investigations (Nakamura et al., 2001). Taken together, thiosulfate dehydrogenase (TsdA) was identified and investigated these results suggest that the existence of the TSD-dependent in the purple sulfur bacterium A. vinosum (Denkmann et al., thiosulfate-oxidation pathway is probably a typical character 2012). This enzyme is a periplasmic, monomeric 25.8 kDa c-type Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 10 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 11 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus cytochrome, most active at pH 4.0. The catalytic mechanism SULFITE OXIDATION of TsdA has been elucidated (Liu et al., 2013; Brito et al., 2015; Kurth et al., 2016). Homologous proteins are not encoded in Sulfite needs to be quickly oxidized or transformed in the Acidithiobacillus genomes, indicating potential differences in organism due to its harmful effect on the cell. Enzyme-mediated thiosulfate dehydrogenases (Kikumoto et al., 2013). sulfite oxidation can occur in the periplasm and the cytoplasm in The TSD in Acidithiobacillus and TsdA in Allochromatium different bacteria. Besides, sulfite also can be converted to sulfate, can be considered as two different kinds of thiosulfate thiosulfate or glutathione S-sulfonate chemically with the help of 3C dehydrogenase based on protein similarity, enzymatic features Fe or sulfur (Sugio et al., 1987b; Suzuki et al., 1992; Harahuc and their existence in different sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. and Suzuki, 2001). Thus, investigations on the distribution of TSD and TsdA Sulfite oxidase activity from A. ferrooxidans strains was homologs in different sulfur-oxidizing prokaryotes will be reported (Vestal and Lundgren, 1971; Sugio et al., 1988; Sugio essential for illustrating the differences in thiosulfate metabolism et al., 1992; Suzuki, 1994), but the gene sequence was still during the evolution of these sulfur-oxidizing species. The unidentified (Valdés et al., 2008a). Until now, the knowledge on unusual gene arrangement of the tsd-doxDA clusters in sulfite oxidation in Acidithiobacillus spp. was mainly acquired A. ferrooxidans, A. ferridurans and A. ferrivorans implies a based on the prediction of potential genes and inference of unique thiosulfate-metabolic mode in these sulfur- and ferrous- protein functions. Three pathways/enzymes are proposed to oxidizing Acidithiobacillus spp. Studies on gene function and participate in the sulfite oxidation process in Acidithiobacillus: the Sox system that oxidizes the periplasmic sulfite, an adenosine-5’- regulation mechanism of this cluster would provide new insights in thiosulfate metabolism in A. ferrooxidans, A. ferridurans, and phosphosulfate (APS) pathway involving two different enzymes A. ferrivorans. Meanwhile, any further knowledge on the protein that catalyze the cytoplasmic sulfite oxidation and a predicted structure and catalytic mechanism of TSD would be helpful for SoeABC complex. understanding the TSD-catalyzed thiosulfate-metabolic process In fact, similar APS pathways associated with cytoplasmic in these sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. sulfite oxidation were reported in A. ferrooxidans, A. caldus, A. thiooxidans and A. ferrivorans (Quatrini et al., 2009; Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016). The APS pathway consists of an APS reductase (AprBA) and SULFIDE OXIDATION an ATP sulfurylase (SAT). These enzymes are involved in Sulfide is an important sulfur-substrate and metabolic- the dissimilatory sulfate reduction pathway in sulfate-reducing intermediate during elemental sulfur oxidation in prokaryotes. SAT utilizes ATP and sulfate to generate APS which Acidithiobacillus. The sulfide-oxidizing enzyme SQR is present in is further converted to AMP and sulfite by AprBA. In some different domains of life from prokaryotes to animals (Griesbeck phototrophic and chemotrophic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, this et al., 2000). It has been proved that sulfide can be oxidized to pathway was postulated to work in the reverse direction: sulfite zero-valent sulfur by the membrane-bound protein SQR and at is oxidized to sulfate; meanwhile, substrate level phosphorylation the same time, electrons are generated and fed into the membrane is achieved (Hipp et al., 1997; Meyer and Kuever, 2007; Meyer quinone pool (Griesbeck et al., 2000). SQR activity was detected and Kuever, 2008). The genomic sequence analysis showed that in A. ferrooxidans NAsF-1. When cells were cultured in S putative sat genes encoding enzymes catalyzing turnover of APS 2C medium, the activity was 17 times higher than in Fe -medium to sulfate and ATP are present in A. ferrooxidans and A. caldus, (Wakai et al., 2004). The crystal structure of A. ferrooxidans SQR but AprBA homologs that oxidize sulfite to APS are not encoded suggested the potential oxidation mechanism: when a sulfide in these strains (Quatrini et al., 2009; Chen et al., 2012). In ion interacts with the S of Cys356, two electrons are acquired A. thiooxidans A01, phosphoadenosine phosphosulfate (PAPS) by FAD and the sulfur atom is attached to the polysulfide reductase and adenylylsulfate kinase genes were discovered, while bridge (Cherney et al., 2010). The active sites of A. ferrooxidans the sat gene was not detected (Yin et al., 2014). To elucidate SQR includes two cysteines (Cys160, Cys356) involved in the APS-mediated sulfite oxidation process in these sulfur-oxidizing transfer of electrons to FAD and the formation of the polysulfide bacteria, more information on the essential genes and their bridge, a third cysteine (Cys128) related to the release of the functions is required. polysulfur product, and two histidine residues (His132, His198) SoeABC, a heterotrimeric membrane-bound complex, was that are essential for its function (Cherney et al., 2010; Zhang first reported to be involved in sulfite oxidation in the cytoplasm and Weiner, 2014). Multiple copies of putative sqr genes were of the chemotrophic Ruegeria pomeroyi (Lehmann et al., 2012). annotated in the genome of Acidithiobacillus strains, but their The complex is formed by three subunits: an NrfD/PsrC like roles in the sulfur oxidation are still unclear. SQRs have been membrane protein (SoeC), an iron–sulfur protein (SoeB), and a classified into several groups (Pham et al., 2008; Marcia et al., molybdoprotein (SoeA) (Lehmann et al., 2012; Dahl et al., 2013). 2009, 2010; Sousa et al., 2018), and the potential SQRs in a single The membrane-bound iron-sulfur molybdoprotein SoeABC has been identified as a major direct sulfite-oxidizing enzyme in species of Acidithiobacillus may belong to different groups. The different catalytic properties and distinct functions of SQRs in the cytoplasm of the purple sulfur bacterium A. vinosum (Dahl Acidithiobacillus spp. could be investigated in future researches et al., 2013). The genes encoding SoeABC were reported in the to reveal their different roles in the sulfur oxidation of these genome of A. caldus SM-1 (Liu L.J. et al., 2014) and SoeABC bacteria. homologs are also found in A. ferrivorans, A. ferrooxidans, Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 11 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 12 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus A. thiooxidans and A. albertensis (unpublished data), implying strains. Interestingly, A. ferrivorans possesses a single copy the presence of a direct cytoplasmic sulfite-oxidizing pathway in of both the sox cluster and tsd gene while in other species these chemoautotrophic sulfur-oxidizers. double copies of these genes are found. Based on the important role of periplasmic thiosulfate metabolism in cell growth and the observed differences in thiosulfate-metabolic pathways in SULFUR OXIDATION NETWORK IN Acidithiobacillus spp., it may be suggested that the variations in thiosulfate-metabolic pathways/enzymes should be a key ACIDITHIOBACILLUS SPP. difference of the sulfur oxidation process in different species of Acidithiobacillus. With the identification of new enzymes, application of omics technologies and gene functional studies based on gene knockout To better understand the Sox-pathway-dependent and techniques, different models of the sulfur-metabolic networks Sox-pathway-independent sulfur-metabolic processes in have been proposed to elucidate the sulfur-oxidizing processes Acidithiobacillus, modified sulfur oxidation models for A. caldus in Acidithiobacillus species (Hallberg et al., 1996; Valdés et al., and A. ferrooxidans were proposed based on cutting-edge 2008a; Mangold et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Bobadilla Fazzini research progresses (Valdés et al., 2008a; Quatrini et al., 2009; et al., 2013; Yin et al., 2014). Based on the knowledge regarding Mangold et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012). In A. caldus (Figure 7), discovered sulfur-oxidizing enzymes and the previous models, extracellular elemental sulfur (S ) is activated and transported sulfur oxidation in Acidithiobacillus spp. can be classified into by special outer-membrane proteins (OMP) into the periplasm two modes: one is the Sox-pathway-dependent sulfur oxidation where persulfide sulfane sulfur is oxidized by an unknown networks in A. caldus, A. thiooxidans, A. albertensis, and enzyme; the resulting sulfite can directly enter the Sox pathway 2 2 or form S O via a non-enzymatic reaction between SO A. ferrivorans, and the other is the Sox-pathway-independent 2 3 3 sulfur-metabolic network in A. ferrooxidans (Table 1). The and a sulfur atom; the periplasmic thiosulfate is then processed Sox system is present in both the sulfur-oxidizing-only species by the truncated Sox pathway, producing sulfate and elemental and the sulfur- and ferrous-oxidizing species A. ferrivorans. sulfur, or be catalyzed by TQO to generate S O that is 4 6 Results from our laboratory indicate that the Sox-containing further hydrolyzed by TetH; the hydrogen sulfide generated strains of A. caldus and A. thiooxidans have higher sulfur in the activation of S is oxidized by SQR located in the oxidation capacities (higher elemental-sulfur-oxidizing rate and inner membrane; some sulfur-metabolic processes, including growth density in S -medium) compared with a Sox- deficient the truncated Sox pathway mediated thiosulfate metabolism, A. ferreooxidans strain. Although A. ferrooxidans has thiosulfate tetrathionate hydrolysis and sulfide oxidation, can produce dehydrogenase (TSD), the differences in the abilities of obtaining elemental sulfur that may be re-activated and -oxidized at the electrons from TSD and Sox system probably contribute to the outer membrane region, or be mobilized into the cytoplasm where it is oxidized by SDO and SOR; the products formed by different sulfur oxidation capacities of these Acidithiobacillus FIGURE 7 | The updated model of sulfur oxidation in A. caldus. OMP, outer-membrane proteins; TQO, thiosulfate quinone oxidoreductase; TetH, tetrathionate hydrolase; SQR, sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase; SDO, sulfur dioxygenase; SOR, Sulfur oxygenase reductase; TST, rhodanese; HDR, Hdr-like complex; SAT, ATP sulfurylase; bd, bo , terminal oxidases; QH2, quinol pool; NADH, NADH dehydrogenase complex I. Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 12 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 13 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus SDO and SOR can activate the cytoplasmic sulfur-metabolic SOR plays a critical role in sulfur-oxidizing archaea (Kletzin pathways including the pathway of S O utilization catalyzed et al., 2004), but it is not an indispensable enzyme in 2 3 by rhodanese (TST) and the Hdr-like complex (HDR), the Acidithiobacillus spp. (You et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012). degradation of SO via the APS pathway and the oxidation In these chemoautotrophic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, SDO is of S by SQR. Sulfur oxidation in A. ferrooxidans differs from one of the important cytoplasmic elemental-sulfur-oxidizing that of A. caldus in its absence of the Sox pathway, however, it enzymes (Figure 1; Wang et al., 2014; Wu et al., 2017). possesses TSD that could be an alternative thiosulfate-metabolic Meanwhile, there are sulfur-oxidizing genes possessed by both pathway in the periplasm (Figure 8). sulfur-oxidizing archaea and Acidithiobacillus, such as dsrE- The discovery of a TSD homolog in Sox-system- tusA, soeABC, and hdrC1B1A-hyp-hdrC2B2 genes (Liu L.J. et al., containing A. ferrivorans indicates the existence of a 2014). hybrid thiosulfate-metabolic mode in the periplasm of this Sulfur oxidation in Acidithiobacillus spp. is a sophisticated species of Acidithiobacillus. Some of the sulfur-oxidizing process that involves various enzymes/proteins and sulfur pathways/enzymes, including TQO in the S I pathway and compounds in different cellular compartments. The proposal the Hdr-like complex and SQR, are proposed to feed electrons of sulfur oxidation models provides an overall and systematic via the quinol pool (QH ) in the inner membrane to the understanding of the sulfur-metabolic process in these bacteria. terminal oxidases bd or bo for producing ATP or to NADH However, there are still some questions and doubts regarding dehydrogenase (complex I) for generating NADH (Figures 7, 8; these models: (i) The localization of these sulfur-oxidizing Valdés et al., 2008a; Quatrini et al., 2009; Mangold et al., 2011; enzymes in the cell. For example, SQR is proposed to be located Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016). at the periplasmic surface of the cytoplasmic membrane in the The sulfur-metabolic networks in Acidithiobacillus spp. differ published models of Acidithiobacillus spp. (Valdés et al., 2008a; from those of the sulfur-oxidizing archaea (Kletzin et al., 2004; Quatrini et al., 2009; Mangold et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Liu et al., 2012). Regarding the thiosulfate metabolism, the S I Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016). Similar localization of pathway exists in sulfur-oxidizing archaea such as Acidianus SQR was reported for Rhodobacter capsulatus (Schutz et al., ambivalens (Muller et al., 2004; Wang et al., 2016), but there 1999), while results for heterotrophic Cupriavidus pinatubonensis is no report on the Sox system and thiosulfate dehydrogenase indicated that SQR located on the cytoplasmic side of the (TSD) in these archaeal sulfur-oxidizers. At least two of the membrane and the soluble cytoplasmic PDO was in the vicinity three thiosulfate metabolic pathways/enzymes (Sox system, S I of the membrane (Gao et al., 2017). The close location of pathway and TSD enzyme) are employed in each species of SQR and PDO in the cytoplasm increases the efficiency of Acidithiobacillus. The complexity of thiosulfate metabolism could sulfide oxidation in heterotrophic bacteria (Gao et al., 2017). be considered as a difference between Acidithiobacillus and However, whether the SQR in Acidithiobacillus spp. works in the sulfur-oxidizing archaea. As for elemental sulfur oxidation, same way as that of heterotrophic bacteria remains unknown. FIGURE 8 | The updated model of sulfur oxidation in A. ferrooxidans. OMP, outer-membrane proteins; TQO, thiosulfate quinone oxidoreductase; TSD, thiosulfate dehydrogenase; TetH, tetrathionate hydrolase; SQR, sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase; SDO, sulfur dioxygenase; HDR, Hdr-like complex; SAT, ATP sulfurylase; bd, bo , terminal oxidases; QH2, quinol pool; NADH, NADH dehydrogenase complex I. Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 13 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 14 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus FIGURE 9 | Regulation model of periplasmic thiosulfate metabolism in A. caldus. RsrS/RsrR and TspS/TspR regulates the transcription of tetH and sox-II gene cluster, respectively. (ii) The actual sulfur-intermediates in the metabolic process. Acidithiobacillus spp. have evolved a set of TCSs to regulate the Various reduced sulfur compounds are produced during the thiosulfate metabolism in the periplasm. TCS genes upstream oxidation of elemental sulfur to the final product sulfate, and of the tetH gene of S I pathway were found in A. caldus, some of them (thiosulfate, tetrathionate, sulfane sulfur and so A. ferrooxidans and A. ferridurans, but not in other species on) are hypothesized to be important sulfur-substrates for sulfur- of Acidithiobacillus (Rzhepishevska et al., 2007; Wang et al., oxidizing pathways in Acidithiobacillus spp. models (Valdés 2016). Phylogenetic analysis indicated that RsrS/RsrR in A. caldus et al., 2008a; Quatrini et al., 2009; Mangold et al., 2011; Chen was an EnvZ/OmpR-like TCS, whereas the TcsS/TcsR in et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016). However, A. ferrooxidans and A. ferridurans was a s -denpendent TCS experimental confirmation on the existence of these sulfur- similar to ZraS/ZraR-like systems (Rzhepishevska et al., 2007; intermediates in vivo is lacking, thus the actual intracellular Wang et al., 2016). EnvZ/OmpR mediates osmotic stress response transformation of sulfur compounds is obscure. (iii) Electron in various gram-negative bacteria, and ZraS/ZraR (HydH/HydG) transport chain. The quinol pool was proposed to mediate the is found responding to high concentrations of zinc or lead electron transport in Acidithiobacillus spp. In published models, in the medium (Leonhartsberger et al., 2001; Cai and Inouye, it was proposed that the electrons generated by the Sox complex 2002). The TspS/TspR that regulate the Sox pathway was also a were transferred via the quinol pool (Valdés et al., 2008a; Quatrini s -dependent TCS, located upstream of sox-II cluster in both et al., 2009; Mangold et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., A. caldus and A. thiooxidans (Li et al., 2017). In A. ferrooxidans, 2014; Christel et al., 2016). However, because of the presence the global redox responding TCS RegB/RegA could regulate the of cytochrome c (SoxXA) in the Sox system (Mangold et al., ferrous iron and RISC oxidation pathways (Sandoval Ponce et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016), 2012; Moinier et al., 2017). the electrons obtained from Sox complex could be transferred Based on previous results on RsrS/RsrR and TspS/TspR (Wang directly to cytochrome c oxidase via SoxXA. Thus, which is the et al., 2016; Li et al., 2017), a new regulation model (shown in actual electron transport for the Sox system in Acidithiobacillus Figure 9) is summarized to better illustrate the significance of spp. remains to be verified. TCSs in the regulation of the periplasmic thiosulfate-metabolism in A. caldus. In the model, S O , the potential signal molecule, 2 3 is sensed by TspS and the activated TspS transmits the signal REGULATION OF to TspR; the phosphorylated TspR binds to the upstream THIOSULFATE-METABOLIC PATHWAYS activator sequence (UAS; TGTCCCAAATGGGACA), initiating the transcription of sox-II gene cluster to express the Sox system IN ACIDITHIOBACILLUS SPP. for the metabolism of thiosulfate; S O can also be oxidized 2 3 by TQO to generate S O that is later sensed by RsrS; the How to sense the sulfur-metabolites and regulate their sulfur- 4 6 signal is transferred to RsrR, generating the active dimer. The metabolic pathways is fundamental for these sulfur-oxidizers to RsrR dimer combines to a 19bp-inverted-repeat-sequence (IRS, catalyze various RISCs. The TCS, including a membrane-bound AACACCTGTTACACCTGTT), stimulating the transcription of sensor histidine kinase HK and a cognate response regulator RR, is a predominant regulatory mechanism for prokaryotic tetH and tqo, thus tetrathionate is decomposed to regenerate thiosulfate. Therefore, both the regulation of TspS/TspR of the microorganisms to initiate specific adaptive responses in response to environmental stimuli (Capra and Laub, 2012). Sox system and RsrS/RsrR of the S I pathway are important Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 14 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 15 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus for maintaining the balance between the oxidation and the metabolism in Acidithiobacillus. (i) The reason for the existence conversion of S O . The existence of TCSs that are associated of multiple copies of sulfur-oxidizing genes (rhd, dsrE, sox 2 3 with thiosulfate metabolism regulation in the periplasm of and so on) and their different roles in sulfur oxidation; (ii) A. caldus and other acidophilic sulfur-oxidizers, allows these the enzymatic properties of some proteins in Acidithiobacillus sulfur-oxidizing microbes to detect the generated S O in the are speculated but not experimentally confirmed, such as 2 3 periplasm, and then modulate thiosulfate-metabolic pathways to the Hdr-like complex, SoeABC and the APS-sulfite-oxidizing quickly oxidize the instable S O or convert it to the acid- pathway (Quatrini et al., 2009; Liu L.J. et al., 2014); (iii) 2 3 stable S O . The discovery of the regulation of TCSs on structural analysis and catalytic mechanism of some sulfur- 4 6 the S I and Sox pathways also indicates the influence of these oxidizing enzymes (TSD, TetH, and TQO) remains to be thiosulfate-metabolic pathways on the sulfur-metabolic network clarified. Moreover, the utilization of various omics technologies of Acidithiobacillus spp. at DNA, RNA and protein levels to study these sulfur- metabolic genes would facilitate the discovery of new sulfur- oxidizing proteins and improve the understanding of the CONCLUSION AND FUTURE sulfur-metabolic networks in Acidithiobacillus strains. Besides, the developments of novel methods or techniques, such as DIRECTIONS methods for visualization of protein localization and sulfur- Sulfur oxidation in chemoautotrophic Acidithiobacillus is an metabolite detection techniques in vivo and in vitro, are needed important component of microbial sulfur metabolism in to facilitate the studies of the enzymatic function and catalytic the global sulfur cycle. Research on sulfur oxidation of process in Acidithiobacillus spp. and other sulfur-oxidizing Acidithiobacillus has made remarkable progresses in multiple microorganisms. aspects over the past decades, from enzymological studies and gene identification to protein structure and catalytic mechanism. The establishment of sulfur oxidation models for AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS Acidithiobacillus spp. provides overall understanding of the sulfur-metabolic process. Sulfur metabolism in Acidithiobacillus RW, J-QuL, and L-XC designed and composed the manuscript. spp. involves various sulfur-oxidizing pathways and enzymes J-QiL, X-ML, and XP helped in revising the manuscript. C-JZ, located in different compartments of the cell, indicating the X-YG, C-ML, Y-QL, and YL prepared the figures. C-LY analyzed complexity and diversity of sulfur oxidation in these acidophilic the gene and protein sequences. autotrophic bacteria. Gene regulation systems including TCSs and other undetected regulatory mechanisms, also contribute to the remarkable sulfur-oxidizing abilities of Acidithiobacillus ACKNOWLEDGMENTS spp. However, detailed and in-depth studies on gene function and enzymatic properties involved in sulfur oxidation are We appreciate the support from the National Natural Science insufficient or absent, resulting in the ambiguous conclusions Foundation of China (31570036, 31370138, 31400093, 31570041, or questions without answers in certain aspects of sulfur 31872621, and 30800011). plating sludge. J. Hazard. Mater. 174, 763–769. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2009. REFERENCES 09.117 Acosta, M., Beard, S., Ponce, J., Vera, M., Mobarec, J. C., and Jerez, C. A. Beard, S., Paradela, A., Albar, J. P., and Jerez, C. A. (2011). Growth of (2005). 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Bacteriol. 196, 2255–2264. doi: be construed as a potential conflict of interest. 10.1128/jb.01472- 13 Zander, U., Faust, A., Klink, B. U., de Sanctis, D., Panjikar, S., Quentmeier, A., et al. Copyright © 2019 Wang, Lin, Liu, Pang, Zhang, Yang, Gao, Lin, Li, Li, Lin and Chen. (2011). Structural basis for the oxidation of protein-bound sulfur by the sulfur This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons cycle molybdohemo-enzyme sulfane dehydrogenase SoxCD. J. Biol. Chem. 286, Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums 8349–8360. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.193631 is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited Zhang, C., Chen, L., Dong, N., Lin, H., Lin, J., and Lin, J. (2014). and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted “Markerless deletion of a rhodanese in Acidithiobacillus caldus MTH-04,” in academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not Proceedings of the International Conference on Human Health and Medical comply with these terms. Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 20 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Frontiers in Microbiology Pubmed Central

Sulfur Oxidation in the Acidophilic Autotrophic Acidithiobacillus spp.

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fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 1 REVIEW published: 10 January 2019 doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03290 Sulfur Oxidation in the Acidophilic Autotrophic Acidithiobacillus spp. Rui Wang, Jian-Qiang Lin, Xiang-Mei Liu, Xin Pang, Cheng-Jia Zhang, Chun-Long Yang, Xue-Yan Gao, Chun-Mao Lin, Ya-Qing Li, Yang Li, Jian-Qun Lin and Lin-Xu Chen * * State Key Laboratory of Microbial Technology, Shandong University, Qingdao, China Sulfur oxidation is an essential component of the earth’s sulfur cycle. Acidithiobacillus spp. can oxidize various reduced inorganic sulfur compounds (RISCs) with high efficiency to obtain electrons for their autotrophic growth. Strains in this genus have been widely applied in bioleaching and biological desulfurization. Diverse sulfur-metabolic pathways and corresponding regulatory systems have been discovered in these acidophilic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. The sulfur-metabolic enzymes in Acidithiobacillus spp. can be categorized as elemental sulfur oxidation enzymes (sulfur dioxygenase, sulfur oxygenase reductase, and Hdr-like complex), enzymes in thiosulfate oxidation Edited by: pathways (tetrathionate intermediate thiosulfate oxidation (S I) pathway, the sulfur Christiane Dahl, oxidizing enzyme (Sox) system and thiosulfate dehydrogenase), sulfide oxidation Universität Bonn, Germany enzymes (sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase) and sulfite oxidation pathways/enzymes. The Reviewed by: two-component systems (TCSs) are the typical regulation elements for periplasmic Marianne Guiral, Center for the National Scientific thiosulfate metabolism in these autotrophic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Examples are Research (CNRS), France RsrS/RsrR responsible for S I pathway regulation and TspS/TspR for Sox system Arnulf Kletzin, Darmstadt University of Technology, regulation. The proposal of sulfur metabolic and regulatory models provide new insights Germany and overall understanding of the sulfur-metabolic processes in Acidithiobacillus spp. The *Correspondence: future research directions and existing barriers in the bacterial sulfur metabolism are also Jian-Qun Lin emphasized here and the breakthroughs in these areas will accelerate the research on jianqunlin@sdu.edu.cn Lin-Xu Chen the sulfur oxidation in Acidithiobacillus spp. and other sulfur oxidizers. linxuchen@sdu.edu.cn Keywords: Acidithiobacillus, sulfur oxidation, two-component system, elemental sulfur oxidation, thiosulfate oxidation pathways, sulfide oxidation, sulfite oxidation Specialty section: This article was submitted to Microbial Physiology and Metabolism, a section of the journal INTRODUCTION Frontiers in Microbiology Acidithiobacillus, the gram-negative sulfur-oxidizing chemolithotrophic bacteria in the Received: 02 July 2018 Accepted: 18 December 2018 proteobacterial class Acidithiobacillia, formerly belonged to the genus “Thiobacillus” (Vishniac Published: 10 January 2019 and Santer, 1957; Kelly and Wood, 2000; Williams and Kelly, 2013). However, due to their Citation: higher acid-tolerance and relatively closer evolutionary relationships with each other compared to Wang R, Lin J-Q, Liu X-M, other species in the genus Thiobacillus, they were reclassified as a new genus “Acidithiobacillus” Pang X, Zhang C-J, Yang C-L, in 2000 (Kelly and Wood, 2000). Members of this genus have the remarkable capability of Gao X-Y, Lin C-M, Li Y-Q, Li Y, Lin J-Q oxidizing various reduced inorganic sulfur compounds (RISCs) to obtain electrons for carbon and Chen L-X (2019) Sulfur Oxidation dioxide fixation, and some of them also have ferrous iron oxidation ability (Harrison, 1984). in the Acidophilic Autotrophic On the basis of physiological characters and 16S rRNA gene sequence comparisons, the genus Acidithiobacillus spp. Acidithiobacillus has been classified into seven different species (Table 1; Waksman and Joffe, 1922; Front. Microbiol. 9:3290. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03290 Temple and Colmer, 1951; Hallberg and Lindstrom, 1994; Xia et al., 2007; Liljeqvist et al., 2012; Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 1 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 2 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus Falagan and Johnson, 2016; Nunez et al., 2017). Based on the sulfide oxidation enzymes, and sulfite oxidation enzymes. These differences in the energy-substrates, species in Acidithiobacillus enzymes work cooperatively to oxidize the RISCs to the final can be divided into two groups: the sulfur-oxidizing-only species, product sulfate. Therefore, the identification of novel sulfur- including Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans, Acidithiobacillus caldus metabolic proteins and investigation of the metabolic and and Acidithiobacillus albertensis, and the sulfur- and ferrous- regulatory mechanisms of these known sulfur oxidation proteins oxidizing species, including Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, have been the main subject of researches on sulfur oxidation Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans, Acidithiobacillus ferriphilus, and in Acidithiobacillus spp. Significant research progress was made Acidithiobacillus ferridurans (Table 1). Acidithiobacillus strains over the last decades in these areas. Here, the key points are are widely distributed in acidic sulfur-containing environments summarized to provide an overall picture of sulfur oxidation in on land or in the sea, including soil, sediments, hot springs, Acidithiobacillus spp. iron-sulfur mineral deposits and acid mine drainage (AMD), where these bacteria participate in the global element cycles of sulfur and iron, promoting the oxidation of RISCs to sulfate and ELEMENTAL SULFUR OXIDATION the conversions between ferrous and ferric ions (London and Rittenberg, 1964; Nielsen and Beck, 1972; Taylor et al., 1984; Sulfur Dioxygenase (SDO) Schrenk et al., 1998; Jones et al., 2012; Hua et al., 2015; Sharmin et al., 2016). Elemental sulfur (S ), mainly present in the form of insoluble Acidithiobacillus spp. are prevalent in acid mines due to homocyclic S , is hydrophobic, metastable, and almost insoluble their capabilities of utilizing the sulfur and iron in ores and in water. Elemental sulfur oxidation activity was first detected in adapting to extremely acidic environments. As a consequence, A. thiooxidans as early as 1959 (Suzuki and Werkman, 1959). The Acidithiobacillus spp. have become the most active bacteria purified enzyme that is associated with this activity was named used in the biohydrometallurgy industry in bioleaching or sulfur dioxygenase (SDO, EC 1.13.11.18) and reduced glutathione biomining, whereby metals are extracted from ores through (GSH) was necessary for activity detection in in vitro assays. microbial oxidation (Rawlings et al., 1999; Rawlings, 2005). It was reported that Sulfur dioxygenase (SDO) is composed of Three species, A. ferrooxidans A. thiooxidans, and A. caldus, a 21- and a 26- kDa protein in A. thiooxidans or two 23 kDa have been studied extensively and applied widely in bioleaching subunits in A. ferrooxidans (Suzuki, 1965; Silver and Lundgren, for mineral extraction from ores (Valdés et al., 2008b). In 1968a; Sugio et al., 1987a). Assays in vitro revealed that the addition, the ability of heavy metal leaching has expanded the actual substrate for SDO-catalyzed reaction was the sulfane sulfur application of Acidithiobacillus spp. from hydrometallurgy to the atom of glutathione persulfide (GSSH) and its homologs (GSSnH, treatment of wastes containing heavy metals, such as sewage n > 1) (Rohwerder and Sand, 2003, 2008), but the amino acid sludge, spent household batteries, mine tailings, and printed sequences of SDO were not identified at that time. circuit boards (Pathak et al., 2009; Bayat and Sari, 2010; Arshadi In recent years, SDO activity was also detected in the and Mousavi, 2014; Ijadi Bajestani et al., 2014; Nguyen et al., 2015; mitochondria of plants and animals and in heterotrophic Rastegar et al., 2015). Moreover, these bacteria have been widely bacteria, and protein sequences were identified in these studied in microbial desulfurization of coal and gas (Azizan organisms. This enzyme was originally named as SDO in et al., 2000; He et al., 2012; Charnnok et al., 2013). Taken Acidithiobacillus spp. Based on the further studies, two together, Acidithiobacillus spp. have shown their great value of new names, ETHE1 and persulfide dioxygenase (PDO), were applications not only in metal leaching (copper, uranium, gold proposed for SDO homologs in mitochondria and heterotrophic and so on) from mineral ores, but also in solving environmental bacteria, respectively (Jackson et al., 2012; Kabil and Banerjee, pollution problems caused by heavy metals and inorganic sulfur 2012; Liu H. et al., 2014; Sattler et al., 2015). To avoid any compounds. confusion, here we use SDO throughout this paper to refer Sulfur oxidation, as the essential physiological feature of to this enzyme in Acidithiobacillus spp. The mitochondrial Acidithiobacillus spp. and the important character for their ETHE1s identified in human and Arabidopsis both belong to application, has attracted extensive attention (Suzuki and the metallo-b-lactamase superfamily, and their metal-binding Werkman, 1959; London, 1963; London and Rittenberg, 1964; active sites consist of an aspartate and two histidine residues Suzuki et al., 1992; Hallberg et al., 1996; Quatrini et al., (Tiranti et al., 2009; Holdorf et al., 2012). Based on phylogenetic 2009; Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; Wang et al., 2016; analysis, heterotrophic bacterial PDOs were classified into three Nunez et al., 2017; Zhang et al., 2018). The element sulfur subgroups (Liu H. et al., 2014). Structural analyses indicated can exist in various oxidation states ranging from -2 to C6, that the PDOs in heterotrophic bacteria contained the conserved which results in a variety of RISCs including tetrathionate amino acid residues, and differences in the GS-moiety binding 2 2 2 2 (S O ), thiosulfate (S O ), sulfite (SO ), sulfide (S ), sites of the key amino acid residues supported grouping of 4 6 2 3 3 and elemental sulfur (S ). A variety of enzymes and proteins PDOs (Sattler et al., 2015). The major physiological function involved in the oxidation of RISCs were discovered, including of SDOs in mitochondria or in heterotrophic bacteria has sulfur-oxidizing enzymes, sulfur transferases and sulfur carrier been proposed: ETHE1s/ PDOs works cooperatively with proteins. The sulfur-metabolic enzymes in Acidithiobacillus spp., sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase (SQR) to oxidize H S, relieving based on their substrates, can be categorized as elemental sulfur the toxic effect of H S to the cells (Guimaraes et al., 2011; Kabil oxidation enzymes, enzymes in thiosulfate oxidation pathways, and Banerjee, 2012; Liu H. et al., 2014). Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 2 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 3 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus TABLE 1 | Taxonomic traits of seven species in the genus of Acidithiobacillus. Trait A. ferrooxidans A. ferrivorans A. ferriphilus A. ferridurans A. thiooxidans A. caldus A. albertensis Gram stain Cell size (mm) 1.0  0.5 2.4  0.5 1–2 1–2 1.0–2.0  0.5 1.2–1.9  0.7 1–2  0.4–0.6 Motility C/ C C C C C C Growth pH 1.3–4.5 (2.0–2.5) 1.9–3.4 (2.5) 1.5 (2.0) 1.4–3.0 (2.1) 0.5–5.5 (2.0–3.0) 1.0–3.5 (2.0–2.5) 0.5-6.0 (3.5–4.0) (optimum) Growth T/ C 10–37 (30–35) 4–37 (28–33) 5–33 (30) 10–37 (29) 10–37 (28–30) 32–52 (40–45) 10–40 (25–30) (optimum) Oxidation of S , C C C C C C C 2 2 S O , S O 4 6 2 3 2C Oxidation of Fe C C C C Growth on sulfide C C C C minerals Growth on C (C) C C NR hydrogen Anaerobic growth C C C C 3C with Fe N fixation C C NR NR Mol% GCC 58–59 55–56 57.4 58.4 52 63–64 61.5 Thiosulfate- TSD enzyme; S I Sox system; TSD NR TSD enzyme; S I Sox system; S I Sox system; S I Sox system; S I 4 4 4 4 4 metabolic pathway enzyme; S I pathway pathway pathway pathway pathways pathway Reference Janiczek et al., Hallberg et al., Falagan and Hedrich and Valdés et al., Valdés et al., Bryant et al., 2007; Valdés 2010; Hedrich Johnson, Johnson, 2008b; Hallberg 2008b; Hallberg 1983; Xia et al., et al., 2008a,b; and Johnson, 2016 2013a,b; et al., 2010; Yin et al., 2010; 2007; Castro Hallberg et al., 2013b; Christel Miyauchi et al., et al., 2014 Mangold et al., et al., 2017 2010; Hedrich et al., 2016 2018 2011; Hedrich and Johnson, and Johnson, 2013b; Kikumoto 2013b et al., 2013 C, positive; , negative; C/, the positive or negative result from different reports; (C), some strains have the ability to oxidize hydrogen; NR, not reported; Tm, temperature. Sulfur dioxygenase in Acidithiobacillus spp. was previously SDO1 and its homologs form a new subgroup distinct from proposed to serve as the first enzyme for extracellular elemental the well described subgroups (ETHE1, Blh, SdoA), named sulfur oxidation. This was concluded from a SDO-dependent as SdoS, whereas the SDO2 of A. caldus and its homologs sulfur oxidation model: extracellular elemental sulfur was belong to the ETHE1 subgroup (Figure 1; Wu et al., 2017). first activated by thiol-containing outer-membrane proteins to Phylogenetic analysis also revealed that some potential SDOs generate persulfide sulfane sulfur, and this product was further from A. thiooxidans belong to the SdoA subgroup (Figure 1). oxidized by periplasmic SDO to produce sulfite (Rohwerder Studies on the SDOs indicated the ubiquitous existence of this and Sand, 2003). The nucleotide and amino acid sequences of elemental sulfur-oxidizing enzyme in these chemoautotrophic SDO in Acidithiobacillus spp. were not identified until 2014 sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. (Wang et al., 2014). Two homologs of human ETHE1, AFE_0269 Recently, further phylogenetic analysis on bacterial PDOs in A. ferrooxidans ATCC 23270 and A5904_0790 in A. caldus suggested PDOs can be reclassified into three types (Xia et al., MTH-04, exhibited a remarkable GSH-dependent SDO activity 2017). The subgroups of SdoA and Blh were categorized into in in vitro assays (Wang et al., 2014). Recently, a second SDO the type II PDOs, and ETHE1 homologous proteins are grouped (A5904_0421, termed SDO1), with 33% amino acid identity to as type I PDOs. The type III PDOs exhibited low sequence previously identified Ac-SDO (A5904_0790, termed SDO2), was identities with the type I and type II PDOs. According to the identified in A. caldus MTH-04. The enzymatic activity of SDO1 new classification of PDOs, the SDOs in the SdoS subgroup is much lower than that of SDO2 (Wu et al., 2017). The latest belong to the type III category. Studies on SDOs in SdoS and study on ETHE1-like SDO (SDO2 homolog) from A. caldus ETHE1 subgroups found that there are obvious differences in C-SH12 suggested that AcSDO is a homotetramer containing a the key amino acid residues of the substrate binding regions mononuclear iron site with a 2-His-1-carboxylate facial triad in (unpublished data), indicating different functions of SDO1 and the active site. The key amino acid residues of this protein were SDO2 in the process of sulfur oxidation in Acidithiobacillus spp. described recently (Ruhl et al., 2018). The role of SDOs in sulfur oxidation in Acidithiobacillus was There are two to three copies of SDO paralogs in different studied using sdo deletion and overexpression strains. When species of Acidithiobacillus (Figure 1; Wu et al., 2017). A. caldus grown in liquid S -medium, the sdo (AFE_0269) mutant of Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 3 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 4 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus FIGURE 1 | Phylogenetic analysis of SDOs in Acidithiobacillus spp. and other typical prokaryotes. MEGA 5.0 with the bootstrap test (1000 replicates) were used to construct NJ-tree. The protein ID or locus_tag of each SDO is present in parentheses. The predicted functional domains of proteins whose sequences identities are higher than 30% are selected for this phylogenetic analysis. A. ferrooxidans ATCC 23270 grew much slower than the wild a sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase), respectively (Wu et al., 2017). type. Moreover, cell extracts of the mutant still maintained the In contrary to the previous hypothesis that SDO functioned in 0 2C SDO activity when cultivated in S - or Fe - medium (Wang the oxidation of persulfide sulfane sulfur in periplasm, it is now et al., 2014). No significant differences in growth were observed believed that all the SDO homologs in Acidithiobacillus spp. among the three sdo mutants of A. caldus MTH-04 (1sdo1, are cytoplasmic proteins due to the lack of signal peptides and 1sdo2, and 1sdo1&2) and the wild type strain in S -media, transmembrane regions (Wu et al., 2017). Therefore, based on the and the SDO activities of cell extracts from these mutants were current knowledge, SDOs in Acidithiobacillus spp. are believed not lower than that from wild type (Wu et al., 2017). All these to be involved in cytoplasmic elemental sulfur oxidation, and results indicated that the absence of SDOs in A. ferrooxidans different subgroups of SDOs are probably responsible for the and A. caldus neither impaired their elemental sulfur oxidation oxidation of elemental sulfur generated by different pathways: activities nor caused lethal effects on their growth rates in S - the ETHE1-subgroup of SDOs are involved in the H S-oxidation media. It was suggested that SDO1 in A. caldus is involved pathway and the SdoS-subgroup of SDOs are related to the 2 2 in the S O metabolic process, because when cultivated in S O -decomposition pathway (Wu et al., 2017). 4 6 4 6 tetrathionate at a concentration of 2.27 g/L, strains 1sdo1 Sulfur oxygenase reductase (SOR) is another elemental sulfur and 1sdo1&2 did not exhibit any OD increase in growth oxidizing enzyme found in Acidithiobacillus spp. This enzyme, experiments (Wu et al., 2017). Transcriptional analysis on sdo first reported in several acidophilic and thermophilic archaea, deletion and overexpression strains of A. caldus showed that the can catalyze the disproportionation of cytoplasmic elemental transcription levels of sdo1 and sdo2 had close linkages to those sulfur and generate thiosulfate, sulfite, and sulfide (Kletzin, 1989; of tetH (encoding a tetrathionate hydrolase) and sqr (encoding Kletzin et al., 2004; Ghosh and Dam, 2009). The reaction is Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 4 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 5 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus dioxygen (O )-dependent with no external cofactors or electron horizontal gene transfer (Figure 2). Moreover, the sor gene could donors required, and the oxidation is coupled with neither be eliminated via transposition in strain MTH-04 of A. caldus electron transfer nor substrate-level phosphorylation (Kletzin, (Figure 3; Chen et al., 2012). For our laboratory strain MTH-04, 1989; Urich et al., 2004). The SORs from archaeal and bacterial both the electrotransformation of suicide plasmid specific for sor species are large hollow spheres consisting of 24 identical gene mutagenesis and the continuous passage in S -media in the subunits. Each SOR monomer has a catalytic pocket containing laboratory cultivation environment resulted in the loss of sor gene an indispensable cysteine and a low-potential non-heme iron site (Figure 3). The tendency of eliminating the sor gene in A. caldus, (Urich et al., 2006; Li et al., 2008). the sporadic distribution and the relatively low retention rate Although SOR activity from A. caldus SM-1 cultivated in of the sor gene in Acidithiobacillus spp. indicate that SOR is bioreactors treating gold-bearing concentrates was reported supplementary (You et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Janosch et al., (Chen et al., 2007), a subsequent study indicated that the sor 2015; Christel et al., 2016), but not necessary, for cytoplasmic gene was absent in the complete genome sequence of this elemental sulfur oxidation in these sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. strain (You et al., 2011). Sequence analysis of SOR proteins indicated that the SOR ascribed to A. caldus SM-1, was actually Heterodisulfide Reductase (Hdr)-Like isolated from Sulfobacillus contaminated sample (Figure 2; System Janosch et al., 2015). The SOR homolog was found in our laboratorial strain A. caldus MTH-04, and the overexpression A Hdr-like complex is proposed to serve as an elemental sulfur of sor in A. caldus MTH-04 increased SOR activity by 22.2% oxidation enzyme in the cytoplasmic space of Acidithiobacillus and meanwhile resulted in a growth advantage after the mid- and many other sulfur-oxidizing bacteria and archaea (Quatrini log phase (unpublished data). SOR was defined as a cytoplasmic et al., 2009; Mangold et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Inskeep et al., S -oxidizing enzyme based on studies on a sor deficient mutant 2013; Yin et al., 2014; Liu L.J. et al., 2014; Dahl, 2015; Christel of A. caldus MTH-04 (Chen et al., 2012). SOR homologs have et al., 2016). Proteins of the Hdr-like system from bacterial and been found in some, but not all, strains of A. thiooxidans, archaeal sulfur oxidizers are homologous to those in the HdrABC A. ferrooxidans, A. ferrivorans, A. albertensis (Figure 2; Valdés complex from methanogenic archaea, sulfate-reducing archaea et al., 2008b; Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016). Phylogenetic and sulfate-reducing bacteria (Hedderich et al., 2005). HdrABC analysis indicated that the SORs in these Acidithiobacillus spp. is a unique disulfide reductase that catalyzes the reversible strains were probably acquired from sulfur-oxidizing archaea via reduction of the disulfide bond X-S-S-X coupled with the energy FIGURE 2 | Phylogenetic analysis of SORs in some Acidithiobacillus spp. and other typical prokaryotes. MEGA 5.0 with the bootstrap test (1000 replicates) were used to construct NJ-tree. The protein ID or locus_tag of each SOR is present in parentheses. The predicted functional domains of proteins whose sequences identities are higher than 30% are selected for this phylogenetic analysis. The SOR reported from Acidithiobacillus caldus SM-1 was actually SOR from Sulfobacillus spp. Thus, it was marked as “A. caldus SM-1” in the phylogenetic tree (Chen et al., 2007; Janosch et al., 2015). Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 5 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 6 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus FIGURE 3 | The loci of the sor gene on the genomes of different A. caldus strains. Original-MTH, A. caldus MTH-04 wild type harboring sor gene (the sor-sqr gene cluster sequence GenBank: MK165447); MTH-1sor, A. caldus MTH-04 sor mutant generated by electroporation of the suicide plasmid (the sqr gene cluster sequence GenBank: MK165449); MTH-04, A. caldus MTH-04 wild type lacking sor gene (GenBank: CP026328.1); SM-1, A. caldus SM-1 (GenBank: CP002573.1); ACA, A. caldus ATCC 51765 (GenBank:CP005986.1); potA, ABC transporter ATP-binding protein; ISAtc1, IS elements; tps1&2, transposase; sor, sulfur oxygenase reductase; sqr, sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase; hyp, hypothetical protein. The gene locus on the chromosome was shown below the corresponding gene. conservation (Thauer et al., 2008; Kaster et al., 2011; Wagner sulfur carrier TusA to sulfite, and the released electrons in the et al., 2017). Studies have shown that the HdrABC complex reaction might be transferred via LbpA to generate NADH (Cao is composed of three subunits: HdrA carrying a typical FAD et al., 2018). The confirmation of the sulfur-oxidizing ability of binding motif and four binding motifs for [4Fe-4S] clusters, HdrB Hdr-like complex and the sulfur-metabolizing process catalyzed harboring two identical non-cubane [4Fe-4S] clusters and both of by this system in H. denitrificans, would undoubtedly provide these clusters are consisted of [3Fe-4S] and [2Fe-2S] subclusters, new insights in the elemental sulfur oxidation in the cytoplasm and the ferredoxin-like HdrC containing two binding motifs for of Acidithiobacillus spp., and promote research on the Hdr-like [4Fe-4S] clusters (Hamann et al., 2007; Wagner et al., 2017). In complex in these sulfur-oxidizers. methanogenic and sulfate-reducing archaea, HdrA receives the The presence of SDO, SOR, and Hdr-like complex in electrons from a hydrogenase and transfers them through HdrC Acidithiobacillus spp. indicates the diversity and complexity of to the heterodisulfide reductase catalytic site on HdrB (Mander elemental sulfur oxidation in these acidophilic bacteria. The et al., 2004). Unlike the HdrABC complex, the Hdr-like system in triple sor-sdo1-sdo2 mutant of A. caldus MTH-04 exhibited sulfur-oxidizing bacteria and archaea is encoded by a hdrC1B1A- an increased elemental sulfur oxidation activity, indicating the hyp-hdrC2B2 gene cluster and consists of at least five subunits existence of undetermined elemental sulfur oxidation enzymes (HdrA, HdrB1, HdrB2, HdrC1, and HdrC2) (Boughanemi et al., in Acidithiobacillus spp. (Wu et al., 2017). Direct and conclusive 2016). evidences are needed to confirm the function of Hdr-like complex Hdr-like systems have been discovered in different species in these Acidithiobacillus strains. In addition, the distinct of Acidithiobacillus, and the function of this complex was roles, the potential cooperative effects and regulation modes of proposed to be oxidation of disulfide intermediates (most likely the three cytoplasmic elemental sulfur oxidation enzymes in sulfane sulfur as in GSSH or other sulfur carriers) to sulfite Acidithiobacillus spp. could be the emphasis of future researches. in the cytoplasm (Quatrini et al., 2009; Mangold et al., 2011; Sulfur Trafficking in Acidithiobacillus Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016; Koch and Dahl, 2018.) The transcriptional levels of hdr genes The sulfur carrier proteins TusA and DsrE exist in many sulfur were upregulated when A. ferrooxidans or A. thiooxidans were oxidation bacteria and archaea (Liu L.J. et al., 2014; Dahl, cultivated in sulfur-containing media (Ehrenfeld et al., 2013). 2015). The rhd-tusA-dsrE genes were reported in A. caldus and HdrC from A. ferrooxidans was heterologously expressed and A. ferrooxidans, and these genes, together with the Hdr-like system the recombinant protein harbored [4Fe–4S] clusters (Ossa Henao gene cluster (hdrC1B1A-hyp-hdrC2B2) and sulfite-oxidation- et al., 2011). However, biochemical evidence confirming the enzyme genes (soeABC), exist in one gene cluster in A. caldus SM- function of Hdr-like systems is still absent. Recently, an indirect 1 (soeABC-mogA-rhd-tusA-dsrE-hdrC1-hdrB1-hdrA-hyp-hdrC2- genetic study indicated that a Hdr-like complex functions hdrB2, Atc_2359-2347) (Liu L.J. et al., 2014). Similar gene clusters in the oxidation of thiosulfate to sulfite in Hyphomicrobium can also be found in other species of Acidithiobacillus (unpublished denitrificans (Koch and Dahl, 2018). Moreover, a lipoate-binding data). The unique gene arrangement character suggests potential protein (LbpA) was identified as a necessary component for the functional connections among elemental sulfur oxidation (Hdr- Hdr-like sulfur-oxidizing system in H. denitrificans (Cao et al., like complex), Rhd-DsrE-TusA-mediated sulfur transfer and 2018). Thus, a sulfur oxidation pathway was proposed in which sulfite oxidation in the cytoplasm of Acidithiobacillus spp. Studies the Hdr-like complex oxidizes the sulfane sulfur delivered by the on the sulfur-trafficking proteins from Metallosphaera cuprina Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 6 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 7 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus and Allochromatium vinosum indicated that inorganic sulfur Ghosh and Dam, 2009). In acidic environments (pH < 4.0), compounds were successively transferred by Rhd, DsrE, and TusA thiosulfate can decompose to sulfur and sulfite chemically to form sulfane sulfur at the cysteine of TusA (Liu L.J. et al., 2014; (Johnston and McAmish, 1973), and the generated sulfur exists Stockdreher et al., 2014; Dahl, 2015). TusA serves as a central as colloidal sulfur that cannot be used by Acidithiobacillus component of cytoplasmic sulfur trafficking in sulfur-oxidizing spp. To efficiently metabolize thiosulfate, all the species in the prokaryotes (Dahl, 2015), and might deliver the sulfane sulfur genus Acidithiobacillus possess complicated thiosulfate-oxidizing to the Hdr-like sulfur-oxidizing system (Cao et al., 2018). Thus, multi-enzyme systems to immediately oxidize thiosulfate and TusA can be considered as a joint between sulfur trafficking sulfur-transfer enzymes to transform the thiosulfate to other mediated by Rhd/DsrE/TusA and the sulfur oxidation catalyzed forms of sulfur-substrates (Valdés et al., 2008b). by Hdr-like complex in these sulfur-oxidizers. The discovery of conserved genetic clusters in several Acidithiobacillus species S I Pathway suggested that similar sulfur trafficking and oxidation pathways A thiosulfate oxidation pathway via formation of tetrathionate as might also work in the cytoplasm of these sulfur-oxidizers. Thus, an intermediate (S I) is widely found in b- and g- proteobacteria, it would be interesting to perform further protein characterization particularly in obligately chemolithotrophic genera including assays in vitro and gene function studies in vivo to confirm the Acidithiobacillus, Thermithiobacillus, Halothiobacillus, and function of these proteins in the process of sulfur trafficking and Tetrathiobacter (Dam et al., 2007; Ghosh and Dam, 2009). The oxidation in Acidithiobacillus spp. S I pathway is made up of a thiosulfate:quinol oxidoreductase Rhodanese (Rhd) might be an important functional enzyme (TQO or DoxDA) and a tetrathionate hydrolase (TetH or in sulfur trafficking and sulfur oxidation of Acidithiobacillus TTH). TQO oxidizes thiosulfate to tetrathionate while TetH (Quatrini et al., 2009; Chen et al., 2012; Liu L.J. et al., 2014; hydrolyzes tetrathionate to thiosulfate and other products. The Yin et al., 2014; Koch and Dahl, 2018). Rhd belongs to the fact that the predicted tetH and doxDA genes are found in all sulfurtransferase family, which is found in organisms from all the published genomes of Acidithiobacillus (Table 1), indicates three domains of life and involved in various cellular processes the universality and importance of the S I pathway in these (Smit and Urbanska, 1986; Aminlari and Gilanpour, 1991; acidophilic chemotrophic bacteria (Rzhepishevska et al., 2007; Cipollone et al., 2007). This enzyme is a thiosulfate:cyanide Wang et al., 2016). As shown in Figure 4, tetH and doxDA sulfur transferase (TST), which cleaves the S–S bond present are arranged in a cluster in A. caldus and A. thiooxidans, while in thiosulfate, producing sulfur and sulfite. Rhd activities they are located separately in the genomes of A. ferrooxidans, were detected in crude enzyme extracts of A. ferrooxidans, A. ferrivorans, and A. ferridurans. Two copies of doxDA genes A. thiooxidans and A. caldus (Tabita et al., 1969; Gardner are located separately in the genomes of A. ferrooxidans and and Rawlings, 2000). Genomic sequences revealed that there A. ferridurans. There are two-component systems (TCSs) located are multiple copies of putative rhd genes in the genomes of upstream of the tetH genes in A. caldus, A. ferrooxidans, and Acidithiobacillus (Valdés et al., 2008a, 2011; Liljeqvist et al., A. ferridurans. Moreover, the transcription of tetH and doxDA 2011; Yin et al., 2014). A 21-kDa rhodanese-like protein (P21) is influenced significantly by different sulfur-substrates in the of A. ferrooxidans was induced when cells were grown on media (Mangold et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; metal sulfides and different sulfur compounds, but the purified Christel et al., 2016), indicating that Acidithiobacillus spp. can recombinant P21 protein did not show Rhd activity in vitro modulate the S I pathway at the transcriptional level in response (Ramírez et al., 2002). Furtherly, eight rhodanese-like proteins to the various sulfur-metabolites in the growth environment. from A. ferrooxidans were cloned and expressed in E. coli. Some Thiosulfate:quinol oxidoreductase (TQO), first discovered of the recombinant proteins had the Rhd activities, and the in Acidianus ambivalens (A. ambivalens), is composed of two others including the P21 did not show this activity, indicating 28-kDa DoxA and two 16-kDa DoxD subunits that formed the potential different physiological roles of these rhodanese-like a a b -tetramer (Muller et al., 2004). The membrane-bound 2 2 proteins in this bacterium (Acosta et al., 2005). Rhd probably TQO oxidizes thiosulfate to tetrathionate, and ferricyanide or plays an essential role in sulfur oxidation in A. caldus since we had decylubiquinone (DQ) takes the electrons generated from this no success in the deletion of the rhd gene in the hdr-rhd-tusA-dsrE reaction to the electron transport chain (Muller et al., 2004). gene cluster (Zhang et al., 2014). Further bioinformatics analysis Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the subunits DoxD and of these Rhd proteins is needed to reveal the sequence similarities DoxA are fused into one protein in Acidithiobacillus spp. and potential protein localizations in these autotrophic sulfur- (Wang et al., 2016; Figure 4), indicating differences of TQOs oxidizing bacteria. between archaeal and bacterial species. Until now, the catalytic mechanism of TQO in Acidithiobacillus spp. is still unclear, and the functional role of TQO in sulfur oxidation needs to be further confirmed experimentally. THIOSULFATE OXIDATION The hydrolysis of tetrathionate by tetrathionate hydrolase has Thiosulfate (S O ) plays an important role in the been studied extensively in Acidithiobacillus, including enzymatic 2 3 biogeochemical sulfur cycle. It is a common substrate and properties, protein localization and function in the sulfur- a key sulfur-metabolic intermediate oxidized by almost all metabolic network (Ralf et al., 1987; de Jong et al., 1997; sulfur-oxidizing microorganisms, thus thiosulfate metabolism Bugaytsova and Lindstrom, 2004; Kanao et al., 2010, 2018; Beard is essential for these sulfur-oxidizers (Dahl and Prange, 2006; et al., 2011; Yu et al., 2014). The fact that 1tetH strains of Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 7 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 8 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus FIGURE 4 | Arrangement of genes of S I pathways in Acidithiobacillus spp. and sulfur-oxidizing archaea. The percentages of similarities between protein sequences are indicated by the values marked in the gene. Accession numbers (GenBank) for these proteins are: A. caldus MTH-04, RsrR (ANJ65973.1), RsrS (ANJ65974.1), TetH (OAN03451.1), DoxDA (OAN03452.1) (GenBank: MK165448); A. caldus SM-1, RsrR (AEK59530.1), RsrS (AEK58242.1), TetH (AEK58243.1), DoxDA (AEK58244.1); A. caldus ATCC 51756, RsrR (ABP38227.1), RsrS (ABP38226.1), TetH (ABP38225.1), DoxDA (ABP38224.1); Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans ATCC 23270, TcsS (ACK79489.1), TcsR (ACK79259.1), TetH (ACK80599.1), DoxDA_2 (ACK79881.1), DoxDA_1 (ACK78481.1); A. ferrooxidans ATCC 53993, TcsS (ACH82290.1), TscR (ACH82291.1), TetH (ACH82292.1), DoxDA_2(ACH82311.1), DoxDA_1(ACH82307.1); A.thiooxidans ATCC 19377, TetH (WP_029316048.1), DoxDA (WP_010638552.1); A.thiooxidans A01, TetH (WP_024894935.1), DoxDA (WP_024894934.1); Acidithiobacillus ferridurans JCM 18981, TcsS (BBF65177.1), TcsR (BBF65176.1), TetH (BBF65175.1),DoxDA_2 (BBF65156.1),DoxDA_1 (BBF65160.1); Acidithiobacillus ferrivorans SS3, TetH (AEM46280.1), DoxDA (AEM47534.1); Acidianus hospitalis W1, TetH (AEE94548.1), DoxD_1 (AEE93006.1), DoxA_1 (AEE93005.1), DoxA_2 (AEE93131.1), DoxD_2 (AEE93130.1); Acidianus ambivalens DSM 3772, TetH (CBY66038.1), DoxD (CAA69986.1), DoxA(CAA69987.1). A. ferrooxidans and A. caldus could not survive in tetrathionate- Lindstrom, 2004). These different results are probably due to the medium but could grow on other sulfur-substrates, indicates differences in the detection methods or the protein components that tetrathionate-metabolism in these sulfur-oxidizing bacteria used in the assays. It is possible that the final products of TetH- is TetH-dependent (van Zyl et al., 2008; Yu et al., 2014). In mediated reactions in Acidithiobacillus spp. are thiosulfate, sulfur addition to its role in tetrathionate hydrolysis, a ferric reductase and sulfate, even though the intermediate metabolites may exist. activity associated with TetH was reported for A. ferrooxidans as Meanwhile, the catalytic mechanism of TetH is still unclear. well (Sugio et al., 2009). Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of TetH TetH proteins purified from A. thiooxidans, A. ferrooxidans, from A. ferrooxidans was published (Kanao et al., 2013). The and A. caldus are all homodimers and the optimal activities crystal of recombinant Af-TetH was a hexagonal cylinder with are detected under acidic conditions (pH 3.0–4.0) (Hazeu et al., dimensions of 0.2 mm  0.05 mm  0.05 mm, and the crystal 1988; Sugio et al., 1996; Tano et al., 1996; Bugaytsova and diffracted to 2.15 Å resolution. However, the three-dimensional Lindstrom, 2004; Kanao et al., 2007, 2018; Beard et al., 2011). structure was not obtained until now. It was reported that the Studies on the products of tetrathionate hydrolysis catalyzed by sole cysteine residue (Cys301) in Af-TetH was involved in neither TetH proteins from different species of Acidithiobacillus yielded the tetrathionate hydrolysis reaction nor the subunit assembly, conflicting results. When suspensions of A. ferrooxidans were indicating a novel cysteine-independent reaction mechanism for used in the assays, polythionates (up to S O ) and sulfur rings this enzyme (Kanao et al., 2014). 13 6 (S , containing 98% S , and small amounts of S , S , S and Different speculations on the localization of TetH in 8 6 7 9; S ) were detected in tetrathionate hydrolysates (Ralf et al., 1987). Acidithiobacillus spp. were made based on the results of indirect However, using the pure enzyme from A. ferrooxidans, the end biochemical assays. Both the low optimal pH (4) for TetH products were thiosulfate, sulfur and sulfate (de Jong et al., 1997). activities and the purification of TetH proteins from the soluble TetH assays for A. thiooxidans showed that thiosulfate was a fraction implied that TetH proteins from A. ferrooxidans and main product of tetrathionate decomposition and the thiosulfate A. thiooxidans were periplasmic proteins (Tano et al., 1996; de probably was further decomposed to generate elemental sulfur Jong et al., 1997; Kanao et al., 2007). The TetH activity analysis (Tano et al., 1996). In contrast, for A. caldus, thiosulfate and on different fractionations of A. caldus cells indicated TetH was a pentathionate were detected after TetH assays (Bugaytsova and potential periplasmic protein (Bugaytsova and Lindstrom, 2004). Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 8 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 9 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus However, the requirement of an acidic environment in the in vitro Comparative analysis of the published genomic sequences refolding experiments on recombinant Af-TetH indicated TetH from species of the genus Acidithiobacillus indicated that probably localized in the outer membrane of A. ferrooxidans sox clusters without soxCD genes are present in A. caldus, (Kanao et al., 2010). Results based on marine A. thiooxidans strain A. thiooxidans, A. albertensis and A. ferrivorans, but not found SH also suggested that TetH locates on the outer membrane of in A. ferrooxidans strains (Figure 5 and Table 1; Valdés et al., the cell (Kanao et al., 2018). Another research group proposed 2008b; Talla et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016; Castro et al., 2017). that TetH in A. ferrooxidans was probably secreted to the Two separate sox clusters are present in A. caldus, A. thiooxidans extracellular space (Beard et al., 2011). Signal peptides of TetHs and A. albertensis. One cluster is arranged in the order soxXYZA- from different strains of Acidithiobacillus spp. were predicted in hyp-soxB that is located downstream of a sigma54-dependent bioinformatics analysis (unpublished data), implying TetH was two component system tspS-tspR (termed as sox-II cluster), the secreted into the periplasm of these sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. other one was soxYZB-hyp-resB-soxAX-resC (termed as sox-I Further immunocytochemical experiments and micro-imaging cluster). Only the sox-II-like cluster was found in A. ferrivorans technologies are required to obtain conclusive evidence for the (Figure 5). localization of this enzyme. Due to the absence of Sox(CD) protein in the Sox system of Acidithiobacillus, two possible ways for SoxYZ regeneration Sox System in bacteria with the truncated Sox pathway were proposed, The sulfur oxidizing enzyme (Sox) system, a typical periplasmic including the cleavage of sulfur atom of the sulfane intermediate multi-enzyme system, was first found in lithoautotrophic (SoxYZ–S–S ) and the oxidation of SoxYZ–S–S by the Paracoccus pantotrophus (Friedrich et al., 2000, 2005). This predicted sulfur dioxygenase (SDO) (Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., complex has been thought to be widely distributed among 2014). Since it is hypothetized that SDO is located in cytoplasm the various phylogenetic groups of photo- and chemo- where it oxidizes the elemental sulfur to sulfite (Wu et al., 2017), lithotrophic sulfur-oxidizing prokaryotes (summarized by Ghosh it is inferred that the sulfur atom of the sulfane intermediate and Dam, 2009; Frigaard and Dahl, 2009). The Sox system (SoxYZ-S-S ) should be cleaved to form elemental sulfur via in P. pantotrophus is made up of four components: SoxXA, an unknown mechanism, so that SoxYZ is regenerated. As a SoxYZ, SoxB, and Sox(CD) (Friedrich et al., 2005). This typical consequence, studies on SoxYZ regeneration and sulfur globule Sox system has the capability of oxidizing thiosulfate, sulfide, accumulation are important for uncovering the catalytic process sulfite, and elemental sulfur to sulfate as the final product of the truncated Sox system in Acidithiobacillus spp. (summarized by Ghosh and Dam, 2009). Thiosulfate oxidation Thiosulfate Dehydrogenase (TSD) is the core of this oxidation pathway: first, SoxXA catalyzes the reaction between the sulfane sulfur of thiosulfate and the The first report on the thiosulfate dehydrogenase in SoxY-cysteine-sulfhydryl group of the SoxYZ complex, forming Acidithiobacillus was released by Silver and Lundgren a cysteine S-thiosulfonate derivative (SoxYZ-S-S-SO ); second, (1968b), that the thiosulfate-oxidizing enzyme purified from SoxB hydrolyzes sulfate (SO ) from the terminal sulfone (- A. ferrooxidans oxidizes one mole of thiosulfate to produce SO ) group of SoxYZ complex; third, Sox(CD) oxidizes the 0.5 mole of tetrathionate. The optimal pH for this thiosulfate- 3 2 sulfane sulfur (–S ) of the residual SoxY-cysteine persulfide oxidizing enzyme was 5.0 and no cofactor was required for this (SoxYZ-S-S ) to cysteine-S-sulfate (SoxYZ-S-SO ); eventually, reaction (Silver and Lundgren, 1968b). Janiczek et al. (2007) the sulfonate moiety (-SO ) is hydrolyzed again by SoxB, described that the purified TSD from A. ferrooxidans was a regenerating SoxYZ (summarized by Ghosh and Dam, 2009; tetramer consisting of four identical subunits of 45 kDa and its Welte et al., 2009; Zander et al., 2011). However, in contrast optimal activity was observed at pH 3.0. It was not until 2013, to the current Sox metabolic models, a new discovery on the that the gene (AFE_0042) encoding thiosulfate dehydrogenase intermediates of the Sox pathway was reported: it was proposed (25 kDa) was identified by Kikumoto et al. (2013) Maximum that instead of cysteine S-thiosulfonate (SoxYZ-S-(S)-SO ), enzyme activity appeared at pH 2.5 and 70 C, but this enzyme SoxYZ that conjugates with multiple sulfane atoms (SoxYZ- could reduce neither ubiquinone nor horse heart cytochrome S-(S) -SO , n  2) is the true carrier species in the Sox c. The low pH optimum of TSD indicated that this enzyme n 3 pathway (Grabarczyk and Berks, 2017). In addition, Sox(CD) probably metabolized thiosulfate in the periplasmic space. It was is absent in a wide range of the Sox-system-dependent sulfur- reported that different TSDs were purified from A. thiooxidans oxidizing bacteria. In the Sox pathway that lacks Sox(CD) (Nakamura et al., 2001), but the corresponding gene sequences (so-called truncated Sox pathway), the sulfur atom of the are unidentified. sulfane intermediate (SoxYZ-S-S ) is probably fed into other Using the protein sequence of AFE_0042 in A. ferrooxidans as Sox pathways or transformed into storage forms of sulfur the reference sequence, another potential TSD (AFE_0050) was (summarized by Ghosh and Dam, 2009; Welte et al., 2009). In discovered in A. ferrooxidans with 76% identities to the protein recent years, structural and biological studies on Sox proteins, sequence of AFE_0042. These two copies of tsd genes, together including the analysis of their three-dimensional structures and with other thiosulfate-oxidation-related genes (doxDA and rhd), the identification of active sites, have provided more information are arranged in a unique thiosulfate-metabolic gene cluster in regarding the catalytic mechanism of the Sox system at atomic- the genome of A. ferrooxidans (Figure 6). This thiosulfate gene level resolution (Bamford et al., 2002; Sauve et al., 2007, 2009; cluster was also discovered in A. ferridurans, but does not exist in Bradley et al., 2012; Grabarczyk et al., 2015). A. ferrivorans that contains TSD (Figure 6). However, no TSD Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 9 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 10 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus FIGURE 5 | The sox clusters in A. caldus and A. thiooxidans. The percentages of similarities between protein sequences are indicated by the values marked in the gene. A. caldus MTH-04: sox I (Gene ID: A5904_10510-10475), sox II (A5904_11270- 11305); A. caldus ATCC 51756: sox I (Acaty_c2059- c2052), sox II (Acaty_c2206-c2213); A. caldus SM-1: sox I (Atc_2217-2209), sox II (Atc_2363-2370); A. thiooxidans ATCC19377: sox I (ATHIO_RS0100375-RS0100340), sox II (ATHIO_RS0101665-RS0101630); A. thiooxidans A01: sox I (X795_RS0118310-RS0118345), sox II (RS0104295-RS0104260); A.albertensis DSM 14366: sox I (BLW97_RS03815-RS03850), sox II (BLW97_RS11430-RS11465); A. ferrivorans SS3: sox II (Acife_2487–2494). FIGURE 6 | Schematic map of the thiosulfate-metabolic gene clusters in A. ferrooxidans and other Acidithiobacillus sp. tsd, thiosulfate dehydrogenase; sbp, sulfate/molybdate binding protein; doxDA, thiosulfate:quinol oxidoreductase; rhd, rhodanese-like domain-containing protein; resA, thiol-disulfide oxidoreductase. The numbers after tsd, sbp, doxDA and rhd were there to differentiate the two copies of these genes in the cluster. The identities of TSD1 and TSD2, SBP1 and SBP2, DoxDA1 and DoxDA2 in A. ferrooxidans are 76, 74, and 71%, respectively. homologs are found in A. caldus or A. thiooxidans (Table 1). for sulfur- and ferrous-oxidizing bacteria (A. ferrooxidans, A. The conflict between the absence of TSD homologs and the ferridurans, and A. ferrivorans). reported TSD activity in A. thiooxidans should be clarified in The most intensively studied tetrathionate-forming further investigations (Nakamura et al., 2001). Taken together, thiosulfate dehydrogenase (TsdA) was identified and investigated these results suggest that the existence of the TSD-dependent in the purple sulfur bacterium A. vinosum (Denkmann et al., thiosulfate-oxidation pathway is probably a typical character 2012). This enzyme is a periplasmic, monomeric 25.8 kDa c-type Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 10 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 11 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus cytochrome, most active at pH 4.0. The catalytic mechanism SULFITE OXIDATION of TsdA has been elucidated (Liu et al., 2013; Brito et al., 2015; Kurth et al., 2016). Homologous proteins are not encoded in Sulfite needs to be quickly oxidized or transformed in the Acidithiobacillus genomes, indicating potential differences in organism due to its harmful effect on the cell. Enzyme-mediated thiosulfate dehydrogenases (Kikumoto et al., 2013). sulfite oxidation can occur in the periplasm and the cytoplasm in The TSD in Acidithiobacillus and TsdA in Allochromatium different bacteria. Besides, sulfite also can be converted to sulfate, can be considered as two different kinds of thiosulfate thiosulfate or glutathione S-sulfonate chemically with the help of 3C dehydrogenase based on protein similarity, enzymatic features Fe or sulfur (Sugio et al., 1987b; Suzuki et al., 1992; Harahuc and their existence in different sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. and Suzuki, 2001). Thus, investigations on the distribution of TSD and TsdA Sulfite oxidase activity from A. ferrooxidans strains was homologs in different sulfur-oxidizing prokaryotes will be reported (Vestal and Lundgren, 1971; Sugio et al., 1988; Sugio essential for illustrating the differences in thiosulfate metabolism et al., 1992; Suzuki, 1994), but the gene sequence was still during the evolution of these sulfur-oxidizing species. The unidentified (Valdés et al., 2008a). Until now, the knowledge on unusual gene arrangement of the tsd-doxDA clusters in sulfite oxidation in Acidithiobacillus spp. was mainly acquired A. ferrooxidans, A. ferridurans and A. ferrivorans implies a based on the prediction of potential genes and inference of unique thiosulfate-metabolic mode in these sulfur- and ferrous- protein functions. Three pathways/enzymes are proposed to oxidizing Acidithiobacillus spp. Studies on gene function and participate in the sulfite oxidation process in Acidithiobacillus: the Sox system that oxidizes the periplasmic sulfite, an adenosine-5’- regulation mechanism of this cluster would provide new insights in thiosulfate metabolism in A. ferrooxidans, A. ferridurans, and phosphosulfate (APS) pathway involving two different enzymes A. ferrivorans. Meanwhile, any further knowledge on the protein that catalyze the cytoplasmic sulfite oxidation and a predicted structure and catalytic mechanism of TSD would be helpful for SoeABC complex. understanding the TSD-catalyzed thiosulfate-metabolic process In fact, similar APS pathways associated with cytoplasmic in these sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. sulfite oxidation were reported in A. ferrooxidans, A. caldus, A. thiooxidans and A. ferrivorans (Quatrini et al., 2009; Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016). The APS pathway consists of an APS reductase (AprBA) and SULFIDE OXIDATION an ATP sulfurylase (SAT). These enzymes are involved in Sulfide is an important sulfur-substrate and metabolic- the dissimilatory sulfate reduction pathway in sulfate-reducing intermediate during elemental sulfur oxidation in prokaryotes. SAT utilizes ATP and sulfate to generate APS which Acidithiobacillus. The sulfide-oxidizing enzyme SQR is present in is further converted to AMP and sulfite by AprBA. In some different domains of life from prokaryotes to animals (Griesbeck phototrophic and chemotrophic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, this et al., 2000). It has been proved that sulfide can be oxidized to pathway was postulated to work in the reverse direction: sulfite zero-valent sulfur by the membrane-bound protein SQR and at is oxidized to sulfate; meanwhile, substrate level phosphorylation the same time, electrons are generated and fed into the membrane is achieved (Hipp et al., 1997; Meyer and Kuever, 2007; Meyer quinone pool (Griesbeck et al., 2000). SQR activity was detected and Kuever, 2008). The genomic sequence analysis showed that in A. ferrooxidans NAsF-1. When cells were cultured in S putative sat genes encoding enzymes catalyzing turnover of APS 2C medium, the activity was 17 times higher than in Fe -medium to sulfate and ATP are present in A. ferrooxidans and A. caldus, (Wakai et al., 2004). The crystal structure of A. ferrooxidans SQR but AprBA homologs that oxidize sulfite to APS are not encoded suggested the potential oxidation mechanism: when a sulfide in these strains (Quatrini et al., 2009; Chen et al., 2012). In ion interacts with the S of Cys356, two electrons are acquired A. thiooxidans A01, phosphoadenosine phosphosulfate (PAPS) by FAD and the sulfur atom is attached to the polysulfide reductase and adenylylsulfate kinase genes were discovered, while bridge (Cherney et al., 2010). The active sites of A. ferrooxidans the sat gene was not detected (Yin et al., 2014). To elucidate SQR includes two cysteines (Cys160, Cys356) involved in the APS-mediated sulfite oxidation process in these sulfur-oxidizing transfer of electrons to FAD and the formation of the polysulfide bacteria, more information on the essential genes and their bridge, a third cysteine (Cys128) related to the release of the functions is required. polysulfur product, and two histidine residues (His132, His198) SoeABC, a heterotrimeric membrane-bound complex, was that are essential for its function (Cherney et al., 2010; Zhang first reported to be involved in sulfite oxidation in the cytoplasm and Weiner, 2014). Multiple copies of putative sqr genes were of the chemotrophic Ruegeria pomeroyi (Lehmann et al., 2012). annotated in the genome of Acidithiobacillus strains, but their The complex is formed by three subunits: an NrfD/PsrC like roles in the sulfur oxidation are still unclear. SQRs have been membrane protein (SoeC), an iron–sulfur protein (SoeB), and a classified into several groups (Pham et al., 2008; Marcia et al., molybdoprotein (SoeA) (Lehmann et al., 2012; Dahl et al., 2013). 2009, 2010; Sousa et al., 2018), and the potential SQRs in a single The membrane-bound iron-sulfur molybdoprotein SoeABC has been identified as a major direct sulfite-oxidizing enzyme in species of Acidithiobacillus may belong to different groups. The different catalytic properties and distinct functions of SQRs in the cytoplasm of the purple sulfur bacterium A. vinosum (Dahl Acidithiobacillus spp. could be investigated in future researches et al., 2013). The genes encoding SoeABC were reported in the to reveal their different roles in the sulfur oxidation of these genome of A. caldus SM-1 (Liu L.J. et al., 2014) and SoeABC bacteria. homologs are also found in A. ferrivorans, A. ferrooxidans, Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 11 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 12 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus A. thiooxidans and A. albertensis (unpublished data), implying strains. Interestingly, A. ferrivorans possesses a single copy the presence of a direct cytoplasmic sulfite-oxidizing pathway in of both the sox cluster and tsd gene while in other species these chemoautotrophic sulfur-oxidizers. double copies of these genes are found. Based on the important role of periplasmic thiosulfate metabolism in cell growth and the observed differences in thiosulfate-metabolic pathways in SULFUR OXIDATION NETWORK IN Acidithiobacillus spp., it may be suggested that the variations in thiosulfate-metabolic pathways/enzymes should be a key ACIDITHIOBACILLUS SPP. difference of the sulfur oxidation process in different species of Acidithiobacillus. With the identification of new enzymes, application of omics technologies and gene functional studies based on gene knockout To better understand the Sox-pathway-dependent and techniques, different models of the sulfur-metabolic networks Sox-pathway-independent sulfur-metabolic processes in have been proposed to elucidate the sulfur-oxidizing processes Acidithiobacillus, modified sulfur oxidation models for A. caldus in Acidithiobacillus species (Hallberg et al., 1996; Valdés et al., and A. ferrooxidans were proposed based on cutting-edge 2008a; Mangold et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Bobadilla Fazzini research progresses (Valdés et al., 2008a; Quatrini et al., 2009; et al., 2013; Yin et al., 2014). Based on the knowledge regarding Mangold et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012). In A. caldus (Figure 7), discovered sulfur-oxidizing enzymes and the previous models, extracellular elemental sulfur (S ) is activated and transported sulfur oxidation in Acidithiobacillus spp. can be classified into by special outer-membrane proteins (OMP) into the periplasm two modes: one is the Sox-pathway-dependent sulfur oxidation where persulfide sulfane sulfur is oxidized by an unknown networks in A. caldus, A. thiooxidans, A. albertensis, and enzyme; the resulting sulfite can directly enter the Sox pathway 2 2 or form S O via a non-enzymatic reaction between SO A. ferrivorans, and the other is the Sox-pathway-independent 2 3 3 sulfur-metabolic network in A. ferrooxidans (Table 1). The and a sulfur atom; the periplasmic thiosulfate is then processed Sox system is present in both the sulfur-oxidizing-only species by the truncated Sox pathway, producing sulfate and elemental and the sulfur- and ferrous-oxidizing species A. ferrivorans. sulfur, or be catalyzed by TQO to generate S O that is 4 6 Results from our laboratory indicate that the Sox-containing further hydrolyzed by TetH; the hydrogen sulfide generated strains of A. caldus and A. thiooxidans have higher sulfur in the activation of S is oxidized by SQR located in the oxidation capacities (higher elemental-sulfur-oxidizing rate and inner membrane; some sulfur-metabolic processes, including growth density in S -medium) compared with a Sox- deficient the truncated Sox pathway mediated thiosulfate metabolism, A. ferreooxidans strain. Although A. ferrooxidans has thiosulfate tetrathionate hydrolysis and sulfide oxidation, can produce dehydrogenase (TSD), the differences in the abilities of obtaining elemental sulfur that may be re-activated and -oxidized at the electrons from TSD and Sox system probably contribute to the outer membrane region, or be mobilized into the cytoplasm where it is oxidized by SDO and SOR; the products formed by different sulfur oxidation capacities of these Acidithiobacillus FIGURE 7 | The updated model of sulfur oxidation in A. caldus. OMP, outer-membrane proteins; TQO, thiosulfate quinone oxidoreductase; TetH, tetrathionate hydrolase; SQR, sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase; SDO, sulfur dioxygenase; SOR, Sulfur oxygenase reductase; TST, rhodanese; HDR, Hdr-like complex; SAT, ATP sulfurylase; bd, bo , terminal oxidases; QH2, quinol pool; NADH, NADH dehydrogenase complex I. Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 12 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 13 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus SDO and SOR can activate the cytoplasmic sulfur-metabolic SOR plays a critical role in sulfur-oxidizing archaea (Kletzin pathways including the pathway of S O utilization catalyzed et al., 2004), but it is not an indispensable enzyme in 2 3 by rhodanese (TST) and the Hdr-like complex (HDR), the Acidithiobacillus spp. (You et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012). degradation of SO via the APS pathway and the oxidation In these chemoautotrophic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, SDO is of S by SQR. Sulfur oxidation in A. ferrooxidans differs from one of the important cytoplasmic elemental-sulfur-oxidizing that of A. caldus in its absence of the Sox pathway, however, it enzymes (Figure 1; Wang et al., 2014; Wu et al., 2017). possesses TSD that could be an alternative thiosulfate-metabolic Meanwhile, there are sulfur-oxidizing genes possessed by both pathway in the periplasm (Figure 8). sulfur-oxidizing archaea and Acidithiobacillus, such as dsrE- The discovery of a TSD homolog in Sox-system- tusA, soeABC, and hdrC1B1A-hyp-hdrC2B2 genes (Liu L.J. et al., containing A. ferrivorans indicates the existence of a 2014). hybrid thiosulfate-metabolic mode in the periplasm of this Sulfur oxidation in Acidithiobacillus spp. is a sophisticated species of Acidithiobacillus. Some of the sulfur-oxidizing process that involves various enzymes/proteins and sulfur pathways/enzymes, including TQO in the S I pathway and compounds in different cellular compartments. The proposal the Hdr-like complex and SQR, are proposed to feed electrons of sulfur oxidation models provides an overall and systematic via the quinol pool (QH ) in the inner membrane to the understanding of the sulfur-metabolic process in these bacteria. terminal oxidases bd or bo for producing ATP or to NADH However, there are still some questions and doubts regarding dehydrogenase (complex I) for generating NADH (Figures 7, 8; these models: (i) The localization of these sulfur-oxidizing Valdés et al., 2008a; Quatrini et al., 2009; Mangold et al., 2011; enzymes in the cell. For example, SQR is proposed to be located Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016). at the periplasmic surface of the cytoplasmic membrane in the The sulfur-metabolic networks in Acidithiobacillus spp. differ published models of Acidithiobacillus spp. (Valdés et al., 2008a; from those of the sulfur-oxidizing archaea (Kletzin et al., 2004; Quatrini et al., 2009; Mangold et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Liu et al., 2012). Regarding the thiosulfate metabolism, the S I Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016). Similar localization of pathway exists in sulfur-oxidizing archaea such as Acidianus SQR was reported for Rhodobacter capsulatus (Schutz et al., ambivalens (Muller et al., 2004; Wang et al., 2016), but there 1999), while results for heterotrophic Cupriavidus pinatubonensis is no report on the Sox system and thiosulfate dehydrogenase indicated that SQR located on the cytoplasmic side of the (TSD) in these archaeal sulfur-oxidizers. At least two of the membrane and the soluble cytoplasmic PDO was in the vicinity three thiosulfate metabolic pathways/enzymes (Sox system, S I of the membrane (Gao et al., 2017). The close location of pathway and TSD enzyme) are employed in each species of SQR and PDO in the cytoplasm increases the efficiency of Acidithiobacillus. The complexity of thiosulfate metabolism could sulfide oxidation in heterotrophic bacteria (Gao et al., 2017). be considered as a difference between Acidithiobacillus and However, whether the SQR in Acidithiobacillus spp. works in the sulfur-oxidizing archaea. As for elemental sulfur oxidation, same way as that of heterotrophic bacteria remains unknown. FIGURE 8 | The updated model of sulfur oxidation in A. ferrooxidans. OMP, outer-membrane proteins; TQO, thiosulfate quinone oxidoreductase; TSD, thiosulfate dehydrogenase; TetH, tetrathionate hydrolase; SQR, sulfide:quinone oxidoreductase; SDO, sulfur dioxygenase; HDR, Hdr-like complex; SAT, ATP sulfurylase; bd, bo , terminal oxidases; QH2, quinol pool; NADH, NADH dehydrogenase complex I. Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 13 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 14 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus FIGURE 9 | Regulation model of periplasmic thiosulfate metabolism in A. caldus. RsrS/RsrR and TspS/TspR regulates the transcription of tetH and sox-II gene cluster, respectively. (ii) The actual sulfur-intermediates in the metabolic process. Acidithiobacillus spp. have evolved a set of TCSs to regulate the Various reduced sulfur compounds are produced during the thiosulfate metabolism in the periplasm. TCS genes upstream oxidation of elemental sulfur to the final product sulfate, and of the tetH gene of S I pathway were found in A. caldus, some of them (thiosulfate, tetrathionate, sulfane sulfur and so A. ferrooxidans and A. ferridurans, but not in other species on) are hypothesized to be important sulfur-substrates for sulfur- of Acidithiobacillus (Rzhepishevska et al., 2007; Wang et al., oxidizing pathways in Acidithiobacillus spp. models (Valdés 2016). Phylogenetic analysis indicated that RsrS/RsrR in A. caldus et al., 2008a; Quatrini et al., 2009; Mangold et al., 2011; Chen was an EnvZ/OmpR-like TCS, whereas the TcsS/TcsR in et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016). However, A. ferrooxidans and A. ferridurans was a s -denpendent TCS experimental confirmation on the existence of these sulfur- similar to ZraS/ZraR-like systems (Rzhepishevska et al., 2007; intermediates in vivo is lacking, thus the actual intracellular Wang et al., 2016). EnvZ/OmpR mediates osmotic stress response transformation of sulfur compounds is obscure. (iii) Electron in various gram-negative bacteria, and ZraS/ZraR (HydH/HydG) transport chain. The quinol pool was proposed to mediate the is found responding to high concentrations of zinc or lead electron transport in Acidithiobacillus spp. In published models, in the medium (Leonhartsberger et al., 2001; Cai and Inouye, it was proposed that the electrons generated by the Sox complex 2002). The TspS/TspR that regulate the Sox pathway was also a were transferred via the quinol pool (Valdés et al., 2008a; Quatrini s -dependent TCS, located upstream of sox-II cluster in both et al., 2009; Mangold et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., A. caldus and A. thiooxidans (Li et al., 2017). In A. ferrooxidans, 2014; Christel et al., 2016). However, because of the presence the global redox responding TCS RegB/RegA could regulate the of cytochrome c (SoxXA) in the Sox system (Mangold et al., ferrous iron and RISC oxidation pathways (Sandoval Ponce et al., 2011; Chen et al., 2012; Yin et al., 2014; Christel et al., 2016), 2012; Moinier et al., 2017). the electrons obtained from Sox complex could be transferred Based on previous results on RsrS/RsrR and TspS/TspR (Wang directly to cytochrome c oxidase via SoxXA. Thus, which is the et al., 2016; Li et al., 2017), a new regulation model (shown in actual electron transport for the Sox system in Acidithiobacillus Figure 9) is summarized to better illustrate the significance of spp. remains to be verified. TCSs in the regulation of the periplasmic thiosulfate-metabolism in A. caldus. In the model, S O , the potential signal molecule, 2 3 is sensed by TspS and the activated TspS transmits the signal REGULATION OF to TspR; the phosphorylated TspR binds to the upstream THIOSULFATE-METABOLIC PATHWAYS activator sequence (UAS; TGTCCCAAATGGGACA), initiating the transcription of sox-II gene cluster to express the Sox system IN ACIDITHIOBACILLUS SPP. for the metabolism of thiosulfate; S O can also be oxidized 2 3 by TQO to generate S O that is later sensed by RsrS; the How to sense the sulfur-metabolites and regulate their sulfur- 4 6 signal is transferred to RsrR, generating the active dimer. The metabolic pathways is fundamental for these sulfur-oxidizers to RsrR dimer combines to a 19bp-inverted-repeat-sequence (IRS, catalyze various RISCs. The TCS, including a membrane-bound AACACCTGTTACACCTGTT), stimulating the transcription of sensor histidine kinase HK and a cognate response regulator RR, is a predominant regulatory mechanism for prokaryotic tetH and tqo, thus tetrathionate is decomposed to regenerate thiosulfate. Therefore, both the regulation of TspS/TspR of the microorganisms to initiate specific adaptive responses in response to environmental stimuli (Capra and Laub, 2012). Sox system and RsrS/RsrR of the S I pathway are important Frontiers in Microbiology | www.frontiersin.org 14 January 2019 | Volume 9 | Article 3290 fmicb-09-03290 January 5, 2019 Time: 18:57 # 15 Wang et al. Sulfur Oxidation of Acidithiobacillus for maintaining the balance between the oxidation and the metabolism in Acidithiobacillus. (i) The reason for the existence conversion of S O . The existence of TCSs that are associated of multiple copies of sulfur-oxidizing genes (rhd, dsrE, sox 2 3 with thiosulfate metabolism regulation in the periplasm of and so on) and their different roles in sulfur oxidation; (ii) A. caldus and other acidophilic sulfur-oxidizers, allows these the enzymatic properties of some proteins in Acidithiobacillus sulfur-oxidizing microbes to detect the generated S O in the are speculated but not experimentally confirmed, such as 2 3 periplasm, and then modulate thiosulfate-metabolic pathways to the Hdr-like complex, SoeABC and the APS-sulfite-oxidizing quickly oxidize the instable S O or convert it to the acid- pathway (Quatrini et al., 2009; Liu L.J. et al., 2014); (iii) 2 3 stable S O . The discovery of the regulation of TCSs on structural analysis and catalytic mechanism of some sulfur- 4 6 the S I and Sox pathways also indicates the influence of these oxidizing enzymes (TSD, TetH, and TQO) remains to be thiosulfate-metabolic pathways on the sulfur-metabolic network clarified. Moreover, the utilization of various omics technologies of Acidithiobacillus spp. at DNA, RNA and protein levels to study these sulfur- metabolic genes would facilitate the discovery of new sulfur- oxidizing proteins and improve the understanding of the CONCLUSION AND FUTURE sulfur-metabolic networks in Acidithiobacillus strains. Besides, the developments of novel methods or techniques, such as DIRECTIONS methods for visualization of protein localization and sulfur- Sulfur oxidation in chemoautotrophic Acidithiobacillus is an metabolite detection techniques in vivo and in vitro, are needed important component of microbial sulfur metabolism in to facilitate the studies of the enzymatic function and catalytic the global sulfur cycle. Research on sulfur oxidation of process in Acidithiobacillus spp. and other sulfur-oxidizing Acidithiobacillus has made remarkable progresses in multiple microorganisms. aspects over the past decades, from enzymological studies and gene identification to protein structure and catalytic mechanism. The establishment of sulfur oxidation models for AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS Acidithiobacillus spp. provides overall understanding of the sulfur-metabolic process. Sulfur metabolism in Acidithiobacillus RW, J-QuL, and L-XC designed and composed the manuscript. spp. involves various sulfur-oxidizing pathways and enzymes J-QiL, X-ML, and XP helped in revising the manuscript. C-JZ, located in different compartments of the cell, indicating the X-YG, C-ML, Y-QL, and YL prepared the figures. C-LY analyzed complexity and diversity of sulfur oxidation in these acidophilic the gene and protein sequences. autotrophic bacteria. Gene regulation systems including TCSs and other undetected regulatory mechanisms, also contribute to the remarkable sulfur-oxidizing abilities of Acidithiobacillus ACKNOWLEDGMENTS spp. However, detailed and in-depth studies on gene function and enzymatic properties involved in sulfur oxidation are We appreciate the support from the National Natural Science insufficient or absent, resulting in the ambiguous conclusions Foundation of China (31570036, 31370138, 31400093, 31570041, or questions without answers in certain aspects of sulfur 31872621, and 30800011). plating sludge. J. Hazard. Mater. 174, 763–769. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2009. REFERENCES 09.117 Acosta, M., Beard, S., Ponce, J., Vera, M., Mobarec, J. C., and Jerez, C. A. Beard, S., Paradela, A., Albar, J. P., and Jerez, C. A. (2011). Growth of (2005). 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