The Maturation Factors HoxR and HoxT Contribute to Oxygen Tolerance of Membrane-Bound [NiFe] Hydrogenase in Ralstonia eutropha H16 ▿ †


The membrane-bound [NiFe] hydrogenase (MBH) of Ralstonia eutropha H16 undergoes a complex maturation process comprising cofactor assembly and incorporation, subunit oligomerization, and finally twin-arginine-dependent membrane translocation. Due to its outstanding O2 and CO tolerance, the MBH is of biotechnological interest and serves as a molecular model for a robust hydrogen catalyst. Adaptation of the enzyme to oxygen exposure has to take into account not only the catalytic reaction but also biosynthesis of the intricate redox cofactors. Here, we report on the role of the MBH-specific accessory proteins HoxR and HoxT, which are key components in MBH maturation at ambient O2 levels. MBH-driven growth on H2 is inhibited or retarded at high O2 partial pressure (pO2) in mutants inactivated in the hoxR and hoxT genes. The ratio of mature and nonmature forms of the MBH small subunit is shifted toward the precursor form in extracts derived from the mutant cells grown at high pO2. Lack of hoxR and hoxT can phenotypically be restored by providing O2-limited growth conditions. Analysis of copurified maturation intermediates leads to the conclusion that the HoxR protein is a constituent of a large transient protein complex, whereas the HoxT protein appears to function at a final stage of MBH maturation. UV-visible spectroscopy of heterodimeric MBH purified from hoxR mutant cells points to alterations of the Fe-S cluster composition. Thus, HoxR may play a role in establishing a specific Fe-S cluster profile, whereas the HoxT protein seems to be beneficial for cofactor stability under aerobic conditions

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This paper was published in PubMed Central.

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