Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Bacteriology


Thayer School of Engineering


Three putative hydrogenase enzyme systems in Thermoanaerobacterium saccharolyticum were investigated at the genetic, mRNA, enzymatic, and phenotypic levels. A four-gene operon containing two [FeFe]-hydrogenase genes, provisionally termed hfs (hydrogenase-Fe-S), was found to be the main enzymatic catalyst of hydrogen production. hfsB, perhaps the most interesting gene of the operon, contains an [FeFe]-hydrogenase and a PAS sensory domain and has several conserved homologues among clostridial saccharolytic, cellulolytic, and pathogenic bacteria. A second hydrogenase gene cluster, hyd, exhibited methyl viologen-linked hydrogenase enzymatic activity, but hyd gene knockouts did not influence the hydrogen yield of cultures grown in closed-system batch fermentations. This result, combined with the observation that hydB contains NAD(P)+ and FMN binding sites, suggests that the hyd genes are specific to the transfer of electrons from NAD(P)H to hydrogen ions. A third gene cluster, a putative [NiFe]-hydrogenase with homology to the ech genes, did not exhibit hydrogenase activity under any of the conditions tested. Deletion of the hfs and hydA genes resulted in a loss of detectable methyl viologen-linked hydrogenase activity. Strains with a deletion of the hfs genes exhibited a 95% reduction in hydrogen and acetic acid production. A strain with hfs and ldh deletions exhibited an increased ethanol yield from consumed carbohydrates and represents a new strategy for engineering increased ethanol yields in T. saccharolyticum.



Original Citation

Shaw AJ, Hogsett DA, Lynd LR. Identification of the [FeFe]-hydrogenase responsible for hydrogen generation in Thermoanaerobacterium saccharolyticum and demonstration of increased ethanol yield via hydrogenase knockout. J Bacteriol. 2009 Oct;191(20):6457-64. doi: 10.1128/JB.00497-09. Epub 2009 Jul 31. PMID: 19648238; PMCID: PMC2753037.