The food-borne bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni efficiently utilizes organic acids such as lactate and formate for energy production. Formate is rapidly metabolized via the activity of the multisubunit formate dehydrogenase (FDH) enzyme, of which the FdhA subunit is predicted to contain a selenocysteine (SeC) amino acid. In this study we investigated the function of the cj1500 and cj1501 genes of C. jejuni, demonstrate that they are involved in selenium-controlled production of FDH, and propose the names fdhT and fdhU, respectively. Insertional inactivation of fdhT or fdhU in C. jejuni resulted in the absence of FdhA and FdhB protein expression, reduced fdhABC RNA levels, the absence of FDH enzyme activity, and the lack of formate utilization, as assessed by 1H nuclear magnetic resonance. The fdhABC genes are transcribed from a single promoter located two genes upstream of fdhA, and the decrease in fdhABC RNA levels in the fdhU mutant is mediated at the posttranscriptional level. FDH activity and the ability to utilize formate were restored by genetic complementation with fdhU and by supplementation of the growth media with selenium dioxide. Disruption of SeC synthesis by inactivation of the selA and selB genes also resulted in the absence of FDH activity, which could not be restored by selenium supplementation. Comparative genomic analysis suggests a link between the presence of selA and fdhTU orthologs and the predicted presence of SeC in FdhA. The fdhTU genes encode accessory proteins required for FDH expression and activity in C. jejuni, possibly by contributing to acquisition or utilization of selenium
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