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J Biol Chem. 2009 Jan 23;284(4):2285-95. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M807392200. Epub 2008 Nov 28.

RamA, a protein required for reductive activation of corrinoid-dependent methylamine methyltransferase reactions in methanogenic archaea.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and The Ohio State Biochemistry Program, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Biol Chem. 2012 Mar 16;287(12):9328.


Archaeal methane formation from methylamines is initiated by distinct methyltransferases with specificity for monomethylamine, dimethylamine, or trimethylamine. Each methylamine methyltransferase methylates a cognate corrinoid protein, which is subsequently demethylated by a second methyltransferase to form methyl-coenzyme M, the direct methane precursor. Methylation of the corrinoid protein requires reduction of the central cobalt to the highly reducing and nucleophilic Co(I) state. RamA, a 60-kDa monomeric iron-sulfur protein, was isolated from Methanosarcina barkeri and is required for in vitro ATP-dependent reductive activation of methylamine:CoM methyl transfer from all three methylamines. In the absence of the methyltransferases, highly purified RamA was shown to mediate the ATP-dependent reductive activation of Co(II) corrinoid to the Co(I) state for the monomethylamine corrinoid protein, MtmC. The ramA gene is located near a cluster of genes required for monomethylamine methyltransferase activity, including MtbA, the methylamine-specific CoM methylase and the pyl operon required for co-translational insertion of pyrrolysine into the active site of methylamine methyltransferases. RamA possesses a C-terminal ferredoxin-like domain capable of binding two tetranuclear iron-sulfur proteins. Mutliple ramA homologs were identified in genomes of methanogenic Archaea, often encoded near methyltrophic methyltransferase genes. RamA homologs are also encoded in a diverse selection of bacterial genomes, often located near genes for corrinoid-dependent methyltransferases. These results suggest that RamA mediates reductive activation of corrinoid proteins and that it is the first functional archetype of COG3894, a family of redox proteins of unknown function.

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