Mechanistic Insights into Energy Conservation by Flavin-Based Electron Bifurcation

Carolyn Lubner, David Mulder, Paul King, David Jennings, Gerrit Schut, Oleg Zadvornyy, John Hoben, Monika Tokmina-Lukaszewska, Luke Berry, Diep Nguyen, Gina Lipscomb, Brian Bothner, Anne Jones, Anne-Frances Miller, Michael Adams, John Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus Citations


The recently realized biochemical phenomenon of energy conservation through electron bifurcation provides biology with an elegant means to maximize utilization of metabolic energy. The mechanism of coordinated coupling of exergonic and endergonic oxidation-reduction reactions by a single enzyme complex has been elucidated through optical and paramagnetic spectroscopic studies revealing unprecedented features. Pairs of electrons are bifurcated over more than 1 volt of electrochemical potential by generating a low-potential, highly energetic, unstable flavin semiquinone and directing electron flow to an iron-sulfur cluster with a highly negative potential to overcome the barrier of the endergonic half reaction. The unprecedented range of thermodynamic driving force that is generated by flavin-based electron bifurcation accounts for unique chemical reactions that are catalyzed by these enzymes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)655-659
Number of pages5
JournalNature Chemical Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Nature America, Inc., part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-67530


  • electron bifurcation
  • flavoenzymes
  • spectroscopy
  • structural analysis


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