The effect of a C298D mutation in CaHydA [FeFe]-hydrogenase: Insights into the protein-metal cluster interaction by EPR and FTIR spectroscopic investigation

Simone Morra, Sara Maurelli, Mario Chiesa, David W. Mulder, Michael W. Ratzloff, Elio Giamello, Paul W. King, Gianfranco Gilardi, Francesca Valetti

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20 Scopus Citations


A conserved cysteine located in the signature motif of the catalytic center (H-cluster) of [FeFe]-hydrogenases functions in proton transfer. This residue corresponds to C298 in Clostridium acetobutylicum CaHydA. Despite the chemical and structural difference, the mutant C298D retains fast catalytic activity, while replacement with any other amino acid causes significant activity loss. Given the proximity of C298 to the H-cluster, the effect of the C298D mutation on the catalytic center was studied by continuous wave (CW) and pulse electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopies. Comparison of the C298D mutant with the wild type CaHydA by CW and pulse EPR showed that the electronic structure of the center is not altered. FTIR spectroscopy confirmed that absorption peak values observed in the mutant are virtually identical to those observed in the wild type, indicating that the H-cluster is not generally affected by the mutation. Significant differences were observed only in the inhibited state Hox-CO: the vibrational modes assigned to the COexo and Fed-CO in this state are shifted to lower values in C298D, suggesting different interaction of these ligands with the protein moiety when C298 is changed to D298. More relevant to the catalytic cycle, the redox equilibrium between the Hox and Hred states is modified by the mutation, causing a prevalence of the oxidized state. This work highlights how the interactions between the protein environment and the H-cluster, a dynamic closely interconnected system, can be engineered and studied in the perspective of designing bio-inspired catalysts and mimics.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)98-106
Number of pages9
JournalBBA - Bioenergetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-65336


  • EPR
  • FTIR
  • Proton transfer
  • [FeFe]-hydrogenase


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