Reduction Potentials of [FeFe]-Hydrogenase Accessory Iron-Sulfur Clusters Provide Insights into the Energetics of Proton Reduction Catalysis

Jacob H. Artz, David W. Mulder, Michael W. Ratzloff, Carolyn E. Lubner, Oleg A. Zadvornyy, Axl X. Levan, S. Garrett Williams, Michael W.W. Adams, Anne K. Jones, Paul W. King, John W. Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus Citations


An [FeFe]-hydrogenase from Clostridium pasteurianum, CpI, is a model system for biological H2 activation. In addition to the catalytic H-cluster, CpI contains four accessory iron-sulfur [FeS] clusters in a branched series that transfer electrons to and from the active site. In this work, potentiometric titrations have been employed in combination with electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy at defined electrochemical potentials to gain insights into the role of the accessory clusters in catalysis. EPR spectra collected over a range of potentials were deconvoluted into individual components attributable to the accessory [FeS] clusters and the active site H-cluster, and reduction potentials for each cluster were determined. The data suggest a large degree of magnetic coupling between the clusters. The distal [4Fe-4S] cluster is shown to have a lower reduction potential (∼ < -450 mV) than the other clusters, and molecular docking experiments indicate that the physiological electron donor, ferredoxin (Fd), most favorably interacts with this cluster. The low reduction potential of the distal [4Fe-4S] cluster thermodynamically restricts the Fdox/Fdred ratio at which CpI can operate, consistent with the role of CpI in recycling Fdred that accumulates during fermentation. Subsequent electron transfer through the additional accessory [FeS] clusters to the H-cluster is thermodynamically favorable.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)9544-9550
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number28
StatePublished - 19 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-68072


  • [FeFe]-hydrogenase
  • catalysis
  • Clostridium pasteurianum
  • electron paramagnetic resonance
  • electron-transfer
  • iron sulfur clusters
  • potentiometric titrations
  • spectral deconvolution


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