Localization of a substrate binding site on the FeMo-cofactor in nitrogenase: trapping propargyl alcohol with an alpha-70-substituted MoFe protein. Academic Article uri icon


  • Substitution of the MoFe protein alpha-70(Val) residue with Ala or Gly expands the substrate range of nitrogenase, allowing the reduction of larger alkynes, including propargyl alcohol (HC[triple bond]CCH(2)OH). Herein, we report characterization of the alpha-70(Val)(-->)(Ala) MoFe protein with propargyl alcohol trapped at the active site. The alpha-70(Ala) variant MoFe protein was rapidly frozen during reduction of propargyl alcohol, resulting in the conversion of the resting-state FeMo-cofactor EPR signal (S = 3/2 and g = [4.41, 3.60, 2.00]) to a new state (S = 1/2 and g = [2.123, 1.998, 1.986]). This EPR signal of the new state increased in intensity with increasing propargyl alcohol concentration, consistent with the binding of a single substrate. The EPR signal of the propargyl alcohol state showed temperature and microwave power dependencies markedly different from those of the classic FeMo-cofactor EPR signal, consistent with the difference in spin. The new state is analogous to that induced by the binding of the inhibitor CO ("lo CO" state) to FeMo-cofactor in the wild-type MoFe protein. The (13)C ENDOR spectrum of the alpha-70(Ala) MoFe protein with trapped (13)C-labeled propargyl alcohol exhibited three well-resolved (13)C doublets centered at the (13)C Larmor frequency with isotropic hyperfine couplings of approximately 3.2, approximately 1.4, and approximately 0.7 MHz, indicating that the alcohol (or a fragment) is coordinated to the cofactor. The results presented here localize the binding site of propargyl alcohol to one [4Fe-4S] face of FeMo-cofactor and indicate roles for the alpha-70(Val) residue in controlling FeMo-cofactor reactivity.

published proceedings

  • Biochemistry

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Benton, P., Laryukhin, M., Mayer, S. M., Hoffman, B. M., Dean, D. R., & Seefeldt, L. C.

citation count

  • 90

complete list of authors

  • Benton, Paul MC||Laryukhin, Mikhail||Mayer, Suzanne M||Hoffman, Brian M||Dean, Dennis R||Seefeldt, Lance C

publication date

  • August 2003