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Eur J Biochem. 2000 Feb;267(3):666-76.

The hybrid-cluster protein ('prismane protein') from Escherichia coli. Characterization of the hybrid-cluster protein, redox properties of the [2Fe-2S] and [4Fe-2S-2O] clusters and identification of an associated NADH oxidoreductase containing FAD and [2Fe-2S].

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Department of Biomolecular Sciences, Wageningen University, The Netherlands. walter.vandongen@epr.bc.wau


Hybrid-cluster proteins ('prismane proteins') have previously been isolated and characterized from strictly anaerobic sulfate-reducing bacteria. These proteins contain two types of Fe/S clusters unique in biological systems: a [4Fe-4S] cubane cluster with spin-admixed S = 3/2 ground-state paramagnetism and a novel type of hybrid [4Fe-2S-2O] cluster, which can attain four redox states. Genomic sequencing reveals that genes encoding putative hybrid-cluster proteins are present in a range of bacterial and archaeal species. In this paper we describe the isolation and spectroscopic characterization of the hybrid-cluster protein from Escherichia coli. EPR spectroscopy shows the presence of a hybrid cluster in the E. coli protein with characteristics similar to those in the proteins of anaerobic sulfate reducers. EPR spectra of the reduced E. coli hybrid-cluster protein, however, give evidence for the presence of a [2Fe-2S] cluster instead of a [4Fe-4S] cluster. The hcp gene encoding the hybrid-cluster protein in E. coli and other facultative anaerobes occurs, in contrast with hcp genes in obligate anaerobic bacteria and archaea, in a small operon with a gene encoding a putative NADH oxidoreductase. This NADH oxidoreductase was also isolated and shown to contain FAD and a [2Fe-2S] cluster as cofactors. It catalysed the reduction of the hybrid-cluster protein with NADH as an electron donor. Midpoint potentials (25 degrees C, pH 7.5) for the Fe/S clusters in both proteins indicate that electrons derived from the oxidation of NADH (Em NADH/NAD+ couple: -320 mV) are transferred along the [2Fe-2S] cluster of the NADH oxidoreductase (Em = -220 mV) and the [2Fe-2S] cluster of the hybrid-cluster protein (Em = -35 mV) to the hybrid cluster (Em = -50, +85 and +365 mV for the three redox transitions). The physiological function of the hybrid-cluster protein has not yet been elucidated. The protein is only detected in the facultative anaerobes E. coli and Morganella morganii after cultivation under anaerobic conditions in the presence of nitrate or nitrite, suggesting a role in nitrate-and/or nitrite respiration.

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