Structural Determinants of the Catalytic Nia-L Intermediate of [NiFe]-Hydrogenase

13 February 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


[NiFe]-hydrogenases catalyze the reversible cleavage of H2 into two protons and two electrons at the inorganic heterobimetallic NiFe center of the enzyme. Their catalytic cycle involves at least four intermediates, some of which are still under debate. While the core reaction, including H2/H- binding, takes place at the inorganic cofactor, a major challenge lies in identifying those amino acid residues that contribute to the reactivity and how they stabilize (short-lived) intermediate states. Using cryogenic infrared and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy on the regulatory [NiFe]-hydrogenase from Cupriavidus necator, a model enzyme for the analysis of catalytic intermediates, we deciphered the structural basis of the hitherto elusive Nia-L intermediates. We unveiled the protonation states of a proton-accepting glutamate and a Ni-bound cysteine residue in the Nia-L1, Nia-L2, and the hydride-binding Nia-C intermediates, as well as previously unknown conformational changes of amino acid residues in proximity of the bimetallic active site. As such, this study unravels the complexity of the Nia-L intermediate and reveals the importance of the protein scaffold in fine-tuning proton and electron dynamics in [NiFe]-hydrogenase.


catalytic cycle

Supplementary materials

Supporting information
Pdf containing supplementary figures, tables and references


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