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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The bioenergetics of methanogenesis.

The reduction of CO2 or any other methanogenic substrate to methane serves the same function as the reduction of oxygen, nitrate or sulfate to more reduced products. These exergonic reactions are coupled to the production of usable energy generated through a charge separation and a protonmotive-force-driven ATPase. For the understanding of how methanogens derive energy from C-1 unit reduction one must study the biochemistry of the chemical reactions involved and how these are coupled to the production of a charge separation and subsequent electron transport phosphorylation. Data on methanogenesis by a variety of organisms indicates ubiquitous use of CH3-S-CoM as the final electron acceptor in the production of methane through the methyl CoM reductase and of 5-deazaflavin as a primary source of reducing equivalents. Three known enzymes serve as catalysts in the production of reduced 5-deazaflavin: hydrogenase, formate dehydrogenase and CO dehydrogenase. All three are potential candidates for proton pumps. In the organisms that must oxidize some of their substrate to obtain electrons for the reduction of another portion of the substrate to methane (e.g., those using formate, methanol or acetate), the latter two enzymes may operate in the oxidizing direction. CO2 is the most frequent substrate for methanogenesis but is the only substrate that obligately requires the presence of H2 and hydrogenase. Growth on methanol requires a B12-containing methanol-CoM methyl transferase and does not necessarily need any other methanogenic enzymes besides the methyl-CoM reductase system when hydrogenase is present. When bacteria grow on methanol alone it is not yet clear if they get their reducing equivalents from a reversal of methanogenic enzymes, thus oxidizing methyl groups to CO2. An alternative (since these and acetate-catabolizing methanogens possess cytochrome b) is electron transport and possible proton pumping via a cytochrome-containing electron transport chain. Several of the actual components of the methanogenic pathway from CO2 have been characterized. Methanofuran is apparently the first carbon-carrying cofactor in the pathway, forming carboxy-methanofuran. Formyl-FAF or formyl-methanopterin (YFC, a very rapidly labelled compound during 14C pulse labeling) has been implicated as an obligate intermediate in methanogenesis, since methanopterin or FAF is an essential component of the carbon dioxide reducing factor in dialyzed extract methanogenesis. FAF also carries the carbon at the methylene and methyl oxidation levels.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)[1]


  1. The bioenergetics of methanogenesis. Daniels, L., Sparling, R., Sprott, G.D. Biochim. Biophys. Acta (1984) [Pubmed]
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