9.C.16 The Proton-pumping H2:Sulfur Oxidoreductase (H+-HSO) Family
ATP synthase catalyzes ATP synthesis at the expense of an electrochemical ion gradient across a membrane that can be generated by different exergonic reactions. Sulfur reduction is the main energy-yielding reaction in the hyperthermophilic strictly anaerobic Crenarchaeon Ignicoccus hospitalis. This organism is unusual in having an inner and an outer membrane that are separated by a huge intermembrane compartment. Kuper et al. (2010) showed with whole I. hospitalis cells, that the ATP synthase and H2:sulfur oxidoreductase complexes of this organism are located in the outer membrane. These two enzyme complexes are mandatory for the generation of an electrochemical gradient and for ATP synthesis. Thus, among all prokaryotes possessing two membranes in their cell envelope (including Planctomycetes, gram-negative bacteria), I. hospitalis is a unique organism, with an energized outer membrane and ATP synthesis within the periplasmic space. In addition, DAPI staining and EM analyses showed that DNA and ribosomes are localized in the cytoplasm, leading to the conclusion that in I. hospitalis energy conservation is separated from information processing and protein biosynthesis. This raises questions regarding the function of the two membranes, the interaction between these compartments, and the general definition of a cytoplasmic membrane (Küper et al., 2010).