The ultrastructural locations of the coenzyme F420-reducing formate dehydrogenase and coenzyme F420-reducing hydrogenase of Methanobacterium formicicum were determined using immunogold labeling of thin-sectioned, Lowicryl-embedded cells. Both enzymes were located predominantly at the cell membrane. Whole cells displayed minimal F420-dependent formate dehydrogenase activity or F420-dependent hydrogenase activity, and little activity was released upon osmotic shock treatment, suggesting that these enzymes are not soluble periplasmic proteins. Analysis of the deduced amino acid sequences of the formate dehydrogenase subunits revealed no hydrophobic regions that could qualify as putative membrane-spanning domains.
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