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EMBO J. 2002 Nov 1;21(21):5599-610.

Structural basis for the oxidation of thiosulfate by a sulfur cycle enzyme.

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  • 1Centre for Metalloprotein Spectroscopy and Biology, School of Biological Sciences and School of Chemical Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK.


Reduced inorganic sulfur compounds are utilized by many bacteria as electron donors to photosynthetic or respiratory electron transport chains. This metabolism is a key component of the biogeochemical sulfur cycle. The SoxAX protein is a heterodimeric c-type cytochrome involved in thiosulfate oxidation. The crystal structures of SoxAX from the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodovulum sulfidophilum have been solved at 1.75 A resolution in the oxidized state and at 1.5 A resolution in the dithionite-reduced state, providing the first structural insights into the enzymatic oxidation of thiosulfate. The SoxAX active site contains a haem with unprecedented cysteine persulfide (cysteine sulfane) coordination. This unusual post-translational modification is also seen in sulfurtransferases such as rhodanese. Intriguingly, this enzyme shares further active site characteristics with SoxAX such as an adjacent conserved arginine residue and a strongly positive electrostatic potential. These similarities have allowed us to suggest a catalytic mechanism for enzymatic thiosulfate oxidation. The atomic coordinates and experimental structure factors have been deposited in the PDB with the accession codes 1H31, 1H32 and 1H33.

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