Extracellular electron transfer can play an important role in microbial respiration on insoluble minerals. The humic acid analog anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate (AQDS) is commonly used as an electron shuttle during studies of extracellular electron transfer. Here we provide genetic evidence that AQDS enters Shewanella oneidensis strain MR-1 and causes cell death if it accumulates past a critical concentration. A tolC homolog protects the cell from toxicity by mediating the efflux of AQDS. Electron transfer to AQDS appears to be independent of the tolC pathway, however, and requires the outer membrane protein encoded by mtrB. We suggest that there may be structural and functional relationships between quinone-containing electron shuttles and antibiotics.
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