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J Biol Inorg Chem. 2004 Jul;9(5):516-24. Epub 2004 Jun 25.

Acetyl-coenzyme A synthase: the case for a Ni(p)(0)-based mechanism of catalysis.

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  • 1Departments of Chemistry and of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Texas A and M University, College Station, TX 77843-3255, USA.


Acetyl-CoA synthase (also known as carbon monoxide dehydrogenase) is a bifunctional Ni-Fe-S-containing enzyme that catalyzes the reversible reduction of CO(2) to CO and the synthesis of acetyl-coenzyme A from CO, CoA, and a methyl group donated by a corrinoid iron-sulfur protein. The active site for the latter reaction, called the A-cluster, consists of an Fe(4)S(4) cubane bridged to the proximal Ni site (Ni(p)), which is bridged in turn to the so-called distal Ni site. In this review, evidence is presented that Ni(p) achieves a zero-valent state at low potentials and during catalysis. Ni(p) appears to be the metal to which CO and methyl groups bind and then react to form an acetyl-Ni(p) intermediate. Methyl group binding requires reductive activation, where two electrons reduce some site on the A-cluster. The coordination environment of the distal Ni suggests that it could not be stabilized in redox states lower than 2+. The rate at which the [Fe(4)S(4)](2+) cubane is reduced is far slower than that at which reductive activation occurs, suggesting that the cubane is not the site of reduction. An intriguing possibility is that Ni(p)(2+) might be reduced to the zero-valent state. Reinforcing this idea are Ni-organometallic complexes in which the Ni exhibits analogous reactivity properties when reduced to the zero-valent state. A zero-valent Ni stabilized exclusively with biological ligands would be remarkable and unprecedented in biology.

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