“Metallosphaera yellowstonensis” is a thermoacidophilic archaeon isolated from Yellowstone National Park that is capable of autotrophic growth using Fe(II), elemental S, or pyrite as electron donors. Analysis of the draft genome sequence from M. yellowstonensis strain MK1 revealed seven different copies of heme copper oxidases (subunit I) in a total of five different terminal oxidase complexes, including doxBCEF, foxABCDEFGHIJ, soxABC, and the soxM supercomplex, as well as a novel hypothetical two-protein doxB-like polyferredoxin complex. Other genes found in M. yellowstonensis with possible roles in S and or Fe cycling include a thiosulfate oxidase (tqoAB), a sulfite oxidase (som), a cbsA cytochrome b558/566, several small blue copper proteins, and a novel gene sequence coding for a putative multicopper oxidase (Mco). Results from gene expression studies, including reverse transcriptase (RT) quantitative PCR (qPCR) of cultures grown autotrophically on either Fe(II), pyrite, or elemental S showed that the fox gene cluster and mco are highly expressed under conditions where Fe(II) is an electron donor. Metagenome sequence and gene expression studies of Fe-oxide mats confirmed the importance of fox genes (e.g., foxA and foxC) and mco under Fe(II)-oxidizing conditions. Protein modeling of FoxC suggests a novel lysine-lysine or lysine-arginine heme B binding domain, indicating that it is likely the cytochrome component of a heterodimer complex with foxG as a ferredoxin subunit. Analysis of mco shows that it encodes a novel multicopper blue protein with two plastocyanin type I copper domains that may play a role in the transfer of electrons within the Fox protein complex. An understanding of metabolic pathways involved in aerobic iron and sulfur oxidation in Sulfolobales has broad implications for understanding the evolution and niche diversification of these thermophiles as well as practical applications in fields such as bioleaching of trace metals from pyritic ores
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