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The geometry of the catalytic active site in [FeFe]-hydrogenases is determined by hydrogen bonding and proton transfer

: Duan, Jifu; Mebs, Stefan; Senger, Moritz; Laun, Konstantin; Wittkamp, Florian; Heberle, Joachim; Happe, Thomas; Hofmann, Eckhard; Apfel, Ulf-Peter; Winkler, Martin; Haumann, Michael; Stripp, Sven Timo


ACS catalysis 9 (2019), Nr.10, S.9140-9149
ISSN: 2155-5435
Fraunhofer UMSICHT Oberhausen ()
metalloenzyme; cofactor dynamics; infrared spectroscopy; protein crystallography; quantum chemistry

[FeFe]-hydrogenases are efficient metalloenzymes that catalyze the oxidation and evolution of molecular hydrogen, H2. They serve as a blueprint for the design of synthetic H2-forming catalysts. [FeFe]-hydrogenases harbor a six-iron cofactor that comprises a [4Fe-4S] cluster and a unique diiron site with cyanide, carbonyl, and hydride ligands. To address the ligand dynamics in catalytic turnover and upon carbon monoxide (CO) inhibition, we replaced the native aminodithiolate group of the diiron site by synthetic dithiolates, inserted into wild-type and amino acid variants of the [FeFe]-hydrogenase HYDA1 from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The reactivity with H2 and CO was characterized using in situ and transient infrared spectroscopy, protein crystallography, quantum chemical calculations, and kinetic simulations. All cofactor variants adopted characteristic populations of reduced species in the presence of H2 and showed significant changes in CO inhibition and reactivation kinetics. Differences were attributed to varying interactions between polar ligands and the dithiolate head group and/or the environment of the cofactor (i.e., amino acid residues and water molecules). The presented results show how catalytically relevant intermediates are stabilized by inner-sphere hydrogen bonding suggesting that the role of the aminodithiolate group must not be restricted to proton transfer. These concepts may inspire the design of improved enzymes and biomimetic H2-forming catalysts.