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Cell-free H-cluster Synthesis and [FeFe] Hydrogenase Activation: All Five CO and CN− Ligands Derive from Tyrosine

By Jon M. Kuchenreuther, Simon J. George, Celestine S. Grady-Smith, Stephen P. Cramer and James R. Swartz


[FeFe] hydrogenases are promising catalysts for producing hydrogen as a sustainable fuel and chemical feedstock, and they also serve as paradigms for biomimetic hydrogen-evolving compounds. Hydrogen formation is catalyzed by the H-cluster, a unique iron-based cofactor requiring three carbon monoxide (CO) and two cyanide (CN−) ligands as well as a dithiolate bridge. Three accessory proteins (HydE, HydF, and HydG) are presumably responsible for assembling and installing the H-cluster, yet their precise roles and the biosynthetic pathway have yet to be fully defined. In this report, we describe effective cell-free methods for investigating H-cluster synthesis and [FeFe] hydrogenase activation. Combining isotopic labeling with FTIR spectroscopy, we conclusively show that each of the CO and CN− ligands derive respectively from the carboxylate and amino substituents of tyrosine. Such in vitro systems with reconstituted pathways comprise a versatile approach for studying biosynthetic mechanisms, and this work marks a significant step towards an understanding of both the protein-protein interactions and complex reactions required for H-cluster assembly and hydrogenase maturation

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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