Evidence of Atypical Structural Flexibility of the Active Site Surrounding of an [FeFe] Hydrogenase from Clostridium beijerinkii

Patrick S. Corrigan, Sean H. Majer, Alexey Silakov

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[FeFe] hydrogenase from Clostridium beijerinkii (CbHydA1) is an unusual hydrogenase in that it can withstand prolonged exposure to O2 by reversibly converting into an O2-protected, inactive state (Hinact). It has been indicated in the past that an atypical conformation of the “SC367CP” loop near the [2Fe]H portion of the six-iron active site (H-cluster) allows the Cys367 residue to adopt an “off-H+-pathway” orientation, promoting a facile transition of the cofactor to Hinact. Here, we investigated the electronic structure of the H-cluster in the oxidized state (Hox) that directly converts to Hinact under oxidizing conditions and the related CO-inhibited state (Hox-CO). We demonstrate that both states exhibit two distinct forms in electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. The ratio between the two forms is pH-dependent but also sensitive to the buffer choice. Our IR and EPR analyses illustrate that the spectral heterogeneity is due to a perturbation of the coordination environment of the H-cluster’s [4Fe4S]H subcluster without affecting the [2Fe]H subcluster. Overall, we conclude that the observation of two spectral components per state is evidence of heterogeneity of the environment of the H-cluster likely associated with conformational mobility of the SCCP loop. Such flexibility may allow Cys367 to switch rapidly between off- and on-H+-pathway rotamers. Consequently, we believe such structural mobility may be the key to maintaining high enzymatic activity while allowing a facile transition to the O2-protected state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11033-11044
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 24 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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