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J Biol Chem. 2002 Sep 13;277(37):34136-42. Epub 2002 Jul 11.

Oxygen-independent coproporphyrinogen-III oxidase HemN from Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Institut für Mikrobiologie, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Spielmannstrasse 7, D-38106 Braunschweig, Germany.


In bacteria the oxygen-independent coproporphyrinogen-III oxidase catalyzes the oxygen-independent conversion of coproporphyrinogen-III to protoporphyrinogen-IX. The Escherichia coli hemN gene encoding a putative part of this enzyme was overexpressed in E. coli. Anaerobically purified HemN is a monomeric protein with a native M(r) = 52,000 +/- 5,000. A newly established anaerobic enzyme assay was used to demonstrate for the first time in vitro coproporphyrinogen-III oxidase activity for recombinant purified HemN. The enzyme requires S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM), NAD(P)H, and additional cytoplasmatic components for catalysis. An oxygen-sensitive iron-sulfur cluster was identified by absorption spectroscopy and iron analysis. Cysteine residues Cys(62), Cys(66), and Cys(69), which are part of the conserved CXXXCXXC motif found in all HemN proteins, are essential for iron-sulfur cluster formation and enzyme function. Completely conserved residues Tyr(56) and His(58), localized closely to the cysteine-rich motif, were found to be important for iron-sulfur cluster integrity. Mutation of Gly(111) and Gly(113), which are part of the potential GGGTP S-adenosyl-l-methionine binding motif, completely abolished enzymatic function. Observed functional properties in combination with a recently published computer-based enzyme classification (Sofia, H. J., Chen, G., Hetzler, B. G., Reyes-Spindola, J. F., and Miller, N. E. (2001) Nucleic Acids Res. 29, 1097-1106) identifies HemN as "Radical SAM enzyme." An appropriate enzymatic mechanism is suggested.

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