ENDOR/HYSCORE studies of the common intermediate trapped during nitrogenase reduction of N2H2, CH3N2H, and N2H4 support an alternating reaction pathway for N2 reduction. Academic Article uri icon


  • Enzymatic N(2) reduction proceeds along a reaction pathway composed of a sequence of intermediate states generated as a dinitrogen bound to the active-site iron-molybdenum cofactor (FeMo-co) of the nitrogenase MoFe protein undergoes six steps of hydrogenation (e(-)/H(+) delivery). There are two competing proposals for the reaction pathway, and they invoke different intermediates. In the 'Distal' (D) pathway, a single N of N(2) is hydrogenated in three steps until the first NH(3) is liberated, and then the remaining nitrido-N is hydrogenated three more times to yield the second NH(3). In the 'Alternating' (A) pathway, the two N's instead are hydrogenated alternately, with a hydrazine-bound intermediate formed after four steps of hydrogenation and the first NH(3) liberated only during the fifth step. A recent combination of X/Q-band EPR and (15)N, (1,2)H ENDOR measurements suggested that states trapped during turnover of the α-70(Ala)/α-195(Gln) MoFe protein with diazene or hydrazine as substrate correspond to a common intermediate (here denoted I) in which FeMo-co binds a substrate-derived [N(x)H(y)] moiety, and measurements reported here show that turnover with methyldiazene generates the same intermediate. In the present report we describe X/Q-band EPR and (14/15)N, (1,2)H ENDOR/HYSCORE/ESEEM measurements that characterize the N-atom(s) and proton(s) associated with this moiety. The experiments establish that turnover with N(2)H(2), CH(3)N(2)H, and N(2)H(4) in fact generates a common intermediate, I, and show that the N-N bond of substrate has been cleaved in I. Analysis of this finding leads us to conclude that nitrogenase reduces N(2)H(2), CH(3)N(2)H, and N(2)H(4) via a common A reaction pathway, and that the same is true for N(2) itself, with Fe ion(s) providing the site of reaction.

published proceedings

  • J Am Chem Soc

altmetric score

  • 3.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Lukoyanov, D., Dikanov, S. A., Yang, Z., Barney, B. M., Samoilova, R. I., Narasimhulu, K. V., ... Hoffman, B. M

citation count

  • 77

complete list of authors

  • Lukoyanov, Dmitriy||Dikanov, Sergei A||Yang, Zhi-Yong||Barney, Brett M||Samoilova, Rimma I||Narasimhulu, Kuppala V||Dean, Dennis R||Seefeldt, Lance C||Hoffman, Brian M

publication date

  • August 2011