Formate dehydrogenase, a component activity of two alternative electron transport pathways in anaerobic Escherichia coli, has been resolved as two distinguishable enzymes. One, which was induced with nitrate reductase as a component of the formate-nitrate reductase pathway, utilized phenazine methosulfate (PMS) in preference to benzyl viologen (BV) as an artificial electron acceptor and appeared to be exclusively membrane-bound. A second formate dehydrogenase, which was induced as a component of the formate hydrogenlyase pathway, appeared to exist both as a membrane-bound form and as a cytoplasmic enzyme; the cytoplasmic activity was resolved completely from the PMS-linked activity on a sucrose gradient. When E. coli was grown in the presence of 75Se-selenite, a 110,000-dalton selenopeptide, previously shown to be a component of the PMS-linked enzyme, was induced and repressed with this activity. In contrast, an 80,000-dalton selenopeptide was induced and repressed with the BV-linked activity and exhibited a distribution similar to the BV-linked formate dehydrogenase in cell fractions and in sucrose gradients. The results indicate that the two formate dehydrogenases are distinguishable on the basis of their artificial electron acceptor specificity, their cellular localization, and the size of their respective selenoprotein components
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