Maturation of Hydrogenases

August Böck, Paul W. King, Melanie Blokesch, Matthew C. Posewitz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

308 Scopus Citations


Enzymes possessing the capacity to oxidize molecular hydrogen have developed convergently three class of enzymes leading to: [FeFe]-, [NiFe]-, and [FeS]-cluster-free hydrogenases. They differ in the composition and the structure of the active site metal centre and the sequence of the constituent structural polypeptides but they show one unifying feature, namely the existence of CN and/or CO ligands at the active site Fe. Recent developments in the analysis of the maturation of [FeFe]- and [NiFe]- hydrogenases have revealed a remarkably complex pattern of mostly novel biochemical reactions. Maturation of [FeFe]-hydrogenases requires a minimum of three auxiliary proteins, two of which belong to the class of Radical-SAM enzymes and other to the family of GTPases. They are sufficient to generate active enzyme when their genes are co-expressed with the structural genes in a heterologous host, otherwise deficient in [FeFe]-hydrogenase expression. Maturation of the large subunit of [NiFe]-hydrogenases depends on the activity of at least seven core proteins that catalyse the synthesis of the CN ligand, have a function in the coordination of the active site iron, the insertion of nickel and the proteolytic maturation of the large subunit. Whereas this core maturation machinery is sufficient to generate active hydrogenase in the cytoplasm, like that of hydrogenase 3 from Escherichia coli, additional proteins are involved in the export of the ready-assembled heterodimeric enzyme to the periplasm via the twin-arginine translocation system in the case of membrane-bound hydrogenases. A series of other gene products with intriguing putative functions indicate that the minimal pathway established for E. coli [NiFe]-hydrogenase maturation may possess even higher complexity in other organisms.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationAdvances in Microbial Physiology
EditorsR. K. Poole
Number of pages71
StatePublished - 2006

Publication series

NameAdvances in Microbial Physiology
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
ISSN (Print)0065-2911

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CH-270-41764


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