Radical S-adenosyl-L-methionine chemistry in the synthesis of hydrogenase and nitrogenase metal cofactors.
ABSTRACT: Nitrogenase, [FeFe]-hydrogenase, and [Fe]-hydrogenase enzymes perform catalysis at metal cofactors with biologically unusual non-protein ligands. The FeMo cofactor of nitrogenase has a MoFe7S9 cluster with a central carbon, whereas the H-cluster of [FeFe]-hydrogenase contains a 2Fe subcluster coordinated by cyanide and CO ligands as well as dithiomethylamine; the [Fe]-hydrogenase cofactor has CO and guanylylpyridinol ligands at a mononuclear iron site. Intriguingly, radical S-adenosyl-L-methionine enzymes are vital for the assembly of all three of these diverse cofactors. This minireview presents and discusses the current state of knowledge of the radical S-adenosylmethionine enzymes required for synthesis of these remarkable metal cofactors.
Project description:Of the three forms of nitrogenase (Mo-nitrogenase, V-nitrogenase, and Fe-nitrogenase), Fe-nitrogenase has the poorest ratio of N2 reduction relative to H2 evolution. Recent work on the Mo-nitrogenase has revealed that reductive elimination of two bridging Fe-H-Fe hydrides on the active site FeMo-cofactor to yield H2 is a key feature in the N2 reduction mechanism. The N2 reduction mechanism for the Fe-nitrogenase active site FeFe-cofactor was unknown. Here, we have purified both component proteins of the Fe-nitrogenase system, the electron-delivery Fe protein (AnfH) plus the catalytic FeFe protein (AnfDGK), and established its mechanism of N2 reduction. Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy and mass spectrometry show that the FeFe protein component does not contain significant amounts of Mo or V, thus ruling out a requirement of these metals for N2 reduction. The fully functioning Fe-nitrogenase system was found to have specific activities for N2 reduction (1 atm) of 181 ± 5 nmol NH3 min-1 mg-1 FeFe protein, for proton reduction (in the absence of N2) of 1085 ± 41 nmol H2 min-1 mg-1 FeFe protein, and for acetylene reduction (0.3 atm) of 306 ± 3 nmol C2H4 min-1 mg-1 FeFe protein. Under turnover conditions, N2 reduction is inhibited by H2 and the enzyme catalyzes the formation of HD when presented with N2 and D2. These observations are explained by the accumulation of four reducing equivalents as two metal-bound hydrides and two protons at the FeFe-cofactor, with activation for N2 reduction occurring by reductive elimination of H2.
Project description:Biological nitrogen fixation, an essential process of the biogeochemical nitrogen cycle that supports life on Earth, is catalyzed by the nitrogenase enzyme. The nitrogenase active site contains an iron and molybdenum cofactor (FeMo-co) composed of 7Fe-9S-Mo-homocitrate and one not-yet-identified atom, which probably is the most complex [Fe-S] cluster in nature. Here, we show the in vitro synthesis of FeMo-co from its simple constituents, Fe, S, Mo, and homocitrate. The in vitro FeMo-co synthesis requires purified NifB and depends on S-adenosylmethionine, indicating that radical chemistry is required during FeMo-co assembly.
Project description:Nitrogenase enzymes have evolved complex iron-sulfur (Fe-S) containing cofactors that most commonly contain molybdenum (MoFe, Nif) as a heterometal but also exist as vanadium (VFe, Vnf) and heterometal-independent (Fe-only, Anf) forms. All three varieties are capable of the reduction of dinitrogen (N(2)) to ammonia (NH(3)) but exhibit differences in catalytic rates and substrate specificity unique to metal type. Recently, N(2) reduction activity was observed in archaeal methanotrophs and methanogens that encode for nitrogenase homologs which do not cluster phylogenetically with previously characterized nitrogenases. To gain insight into the metal cofactors of these uncharacterized nitrogenase homologs, predicted three-dimensional structures of the nitrogenase active site metal-cofactor binding subunits NifD, VnfD, and AnfD were generated and compared. Dendrograms based on structural similarity indicate nitrogenase homologs cluster based on heterometal content and that uncharacterized nitrogenase D homologs cluster with NifD, providing evidence that the structure of the enzyme has evolved in response to metal utilization. Characterization of the structural environment of the nitrogenase active site revealed amino acid variations that are unique to each class of nitrogenase as defined by heterometal cofactor content; uncharacterized nitrogenases contain amino acids near the active site most similar to NifD. Together, these results suggest that uncharacterized nitrogenase homologs present in numerous anaerobic methanogens, archaeal methanotrophs, and firmicutes bind FeMo-co in their active site, and add to growing evidence that diversification of metal utilization likely occurred in an anoxic habitat.
Project description:Nitrogenase harbors three distinct metal prosthetic groups that are required for its activity. The simplest one is a [4Fe-4S] cluster located at the Fe protein nitrogenase component. The MoFe protein component carries an [8Fe-7S] group called P-cluster and a [7Fe-9S-C-Mo-R-homocitrate] group called FeMo-co. Formation of nitrogenase metalloclusters requires the participation of the structural nitrogenase components and many accessory proteins, and occurs both in situ, for the P-cluster, and in external assembly sites for FeMo-co. The biosynthesis of FeMo-co is performed stepwise and involves molecular scaffolds, metallochaperones, radical chemistry, and novel and unique biosynthetic intermediates. This review provides a critical overview of discoveries on nitrogenase cofactor structure, function, and activity over the last four decades.
Project description:The nitrogenase metalloenzyme family, essential for supplying fixed nitrogen to the biosphere, is one of life's key biogeochemical innovations. The three forms of nitrogenase differ in their metal dependence, each binding either a FeMo-, FeV-, or FeFe-cofactor where the reduction of dinitrogen takes place. The history of nitrogenase metal dependence has been of particular interest due to the possible implication that ancient marine metal availabilities have significantly constrained nitrogenase evolution over geologic time. Here, we reconstructed the evolutionary history of nitrogenases, and combined phylogenetic reconstruction, ancestral sequence inference, and structural homology modeling to evaluate the potential metal dependence of ancient nitrogenases. We find that active-site sequence features can reliably distinguish extant Mo-nitrogenases from V- and Fe-nitrogenases and that inferred ancestral sequences at the deepest nodes of the phylogeny suggest these ancient proteins most resemble modern Mo-nitrogenases. Taxa representing early-branching nitrogenase lineages lack one or more biosynthetic nifE and nifN genes that both contribute to the assembly of the FeMo-cofactor in studied organisms, suggesting that early Mo-nitrogenases may have utilized an alternate and/or simplified pathway for cofactor biosynthesis. Our results underscore the profound impacts that protein-level innovations likely had on shaping global biogeochemical cycles throughout the Precambrian, in contrast to organism-level innovations that characterize the Phanerozoic Eon.
Project description:Biological nitrogen fixation, the conversion of atmospheric N2 to NH3, is an essential process in the global biogeochemical cycle of nitrogen that supports life on Earth. Most of the biological nitrogen fixation is catalyzed by the molybdenum nitrogenase, which contains at its active site one of the most complex metal cofactors known to date, the iron-molybdenum cofactor (FeMo-co). FeMo-co is composed of 7Fe, 9S, Mo, R-homocitrate, and one unidentified light atom. Here we demonstrate the complete in vitro synthesis of FeMo-co from Fe(2+), S(2-), MoO4(2-), and R-homocitrate using only purified Nif proteins. This synthesis provides direct biochemical support to the current model of FeMo-co biosynthesis. A minimal in vitro system, containing NifB, NifEN, and NifH proteins, together with Fe(2+), S(2-), MoO4(2-), R-homocitrate, S-adenosyl methionine, and Mg-ATP, is sufficient for the synthesis of FeMo-co and the activation of apo-dinitrogenase under anaerobic-reducing conditions. This in vitro system also provides a biochemical approach to further study the function of accessory proteins involved in nitrogenase maturation (as shown here for NifX and NafY). The significance of these findings in the understanding of the complete FeMo-co biosynthetic pathway and in the study of other complex Fe-S cluster biosyntheses is discussed.
Project description:The X-ray crystal structure of the nitrogenase MoFe protein from Clostridium pasteurianum (Cp1) has been determined at 1.08 Å resolution by multiwavelength anomalous diffraction phasing. Cp1 and the ortholog from Azotobacter vinelandii (Av1) represent two distinct families of nitrogenases, differing primarily by a long insertion in the α-subunit and a deletion in the β-subunit of Cp1 relative to Av1. Comparison of these two MoFe protein structures at atomic resolution reveals conserved structural arrangements that are significant to the function of nitrogenase. The FeMo cofactors defining the active sites of the MoFe protein are essentially identical between the two proteins. The surrounding environment is also highly conserved, suggesting that this structural arrangement is crucial for nitrogen reduction. The P clusters are likewise similar, although the surrounding protein and solvent environment is less conserved relative to that of the FeMo cofactor. The P cluster and FeMo cofactor in Av1 and Cp1 are connected through a conserved water tunnel surrounded by similar secondary-structure elements. The long α-subunit insertion loop occludes the presumed Fe protein docking surface on Cp1 with few contacts to the remainder of the protein. This makes it plausible that this loop is repositioned to open up the Fe protein docking surface for complex formation.
Project description:NifB utilizes two equivalents of S-adenosyl methionine (SAM) to insert a carbide atom and fuse two substrate [Fe-S] clusters forming the NifB cofactor (NifB-co), which is then passed to NifEN for further modification to form the iron-molybdenum cofactor (FeMo-co) of nitrogenase. Here, we demonstrate that NifB from the methanogen Methanocaldococcus infernus is a radical SAM enzyme able to reductively cleave SAM to 5'-deoxyadenosine radical and is competent in FeMo-co maturation. Using electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy we have characterized three [4Fe-4S] clusters, one SAM binding cluster, and two auxiliary clusters probably acting as substrates for NifB-co formation. Nitrogen coordination to one or more of the auxiliary clusters in NifB was observed, and its mechanistic implications for NifB-co dissociation from the maturase are discussed.
Project description:The reduction of N2 to NH3 by Mo-dependent nitrogenase at its active-site metal cluster FeMo-cofactor utilizes reductive elimination of Fe-bound hydrides with obligatory loss of H2 to activate the enzyme for binding/reduction of N2. Earlier work showed that wild-type nitrogenase and a nitrogenase with amino acid substitutions in the MoFe protein near FeMo-cofactor can catalytically reduce CO2 by two or eight electrons/protons to carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4) at low rates. Here, it is demonstrated that nitrogenase preferentially reduces CO2 by two electrons/protons to formate (HCOO(-)) at rates >10 times higher than rates of CO2 reduction to CO and CH4. Quantum mechanical calculations on the doubly reduced FeMo-cofactor with a Fe-bound hydride and S-bound proton (E2(2H) state) favor a direct reaction of CO2 with the hydride ("direct hydride transfer" reaction pathway), with facile hydride transfer to CO2 yielding formate. In contrast, a significant barrier is observed for reaction of Fe-bound CO2 with the hydride ("associative" reaction pathway), which leads to CO and CH4. Remarkably, in the direct hydride transfer pathway, the Fe-H behaves as a hydridic hydrogen, whereas in the associative pathway it acts as a protic hydrogen. MoFe proteins with amino acid substitutions near FeMo-cofactor (?-70(Val?Ala), ?-195(His?Gln)) are found to significantly alter the distribution of products between formate and CO/CH4.
Project description:Nitrogenase catalyzes the reduction of dinitrogen (N2) to two ammonia (NH3) at its active site FeMo-cofactor through a mechanism involving reductive elimination of two [Fe-H-Fe] bridging hydrides to make H2. A competing reaction is the protonation of the hydride [Fe-H-Fe] to make H2. The overall nitrogenase rate-limiting step is associated with ATP-driven electron delivery from Fe protein, precluding isotope effect measurements on substrate reduction steps. Here, we use mediated bioelectrocatalysis to drive electron delivery to the MoFe protein allowing examination of the mechanism of H2 formation by the metal-hydride protonation reaction. The ratio of catalytic current in mixtures of H2O and D2O, the proton inventory, was found to change linearly with the D2O/H2O ratio, revealing that a single H/D is involved in the rate-limiting step of H2 formation. Kinetic models, along with measurements that vary the electron/proton delivery rate and use different substrates, reveal that the rate-limiting step under these conditions is the H2 formation reaction. Altering the chemical environment around the active site FeMo-cofactor in the MoFe protein, either by substituting nearby amino acids or transferring the isolated FeMo-cofactor into a different peptide matrix, changes the net isotope effect, but the proton inventory plot remains linear, consistent with an unchanging rate-limiting step. Density functional theory predicts a transition state for H2 formation where the S-H+ bond breaks and H+ attacks the Fe-hydride, and explains the observed H/D isotope effect. This study not only reveals the nitrogenase mechanism of H2 formation by hydride protonation, but also illustrates a strategy for mechanistic study that can be applied to other oxidoreductase enzymes and to biomimetic complexes.