Biological and Medicinal Chemistry

Structural insight on the mechanism of an electron-bifurcating [FeFe] hydrogenase



Electron-bifurcation is a fundamental energy conservation mechanism in nature. The electron-bifurcating [FeFe] hydrogenase from Thermotoga maritima (HydABC) requires both NADH and ferredoxin to reduce protons generating hydrogen. The mechanism of electron-bifurcation in HydABC remains enigmatic primarily due to the lack of structural information. Here, we present a 2.3 Å electron cryo-microscopy structure of HydABC. The structure is a heterododecamer composed of two independent ‘halves’ each made of two strongly interacting HydABC trimers electrically connected via a [4Fe-4S] cluster, forming a bus-bar system. Symmetry expansion identified two conformations: a “closed bridge” and an “open bridge” conformation, where a Zn2+ site may act as a “hinge” allowing domain movement. Based on these structural revelations, we propose two new mechanisms of electron-bifurcation in HydABC.


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Supplementary material

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Furlan 2021 HydABC Supplementary Materials
Materials and methods Supplementary text Figs. S1 to S8 Table S1