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J Bacteriol. 2011 Mar;193(5):1229-36. doi: 10.1128/JB.01057-10. Epub 2010 Dec 30.

Exploring the active site of the tungsten, iron-sulfur enzyme acetylene hydratase.

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  • 1Universität Konstanz, Fachbereich Biologie, Constance, Germany.


The soluble tungsten, iron-sulfur enzyme acetylene hydratase (AH) from mesophilic Pelobacter acetylenicus is a member of the dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) reductase family. It stands out from its class as it catalyzes a nonredox reaction, the addition of H₂O to acetylene (H-C≡C-H) to form acetaldehyde (CH₃CHO). Caught in its active W(IV) state, the high-resolution three-dimensional structure of AH offers an excellent starting point to tackle its unique chemistry and to identify catalytic amino acid residues within the active site cavity: Asp13 close to W(IV) coordinated to two molybdopterin-guanosine-dinucleotide ligands, Lys48 which couples the [4Fe-4S] cluster to the W site, and Ile142 as part of a hydrophobic ring at the end of the substrate access channel designed to accommodate the substrate acetylene. A protocol was developed to express AH in Escherichia coli and to produce active-site variants which were characterized with regard to activity and occupancy of the tungsten and iron-sulfur centers. By this means, fusion of the N-terminal chaperone binding site of the E. coli nitrate reductase NarG to the AH gene improved the yield and activity of AH and its variants significantly. Results from site-directed mutagenesis of three key residues, Asp13, Lys48, and Ile142, document their important role in catalysis of this unusual tungsten enzyme.

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