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Mol Microbiol. 2000 Oct;38(1):114-25.

Comparison of the sequences of the Aspergillus nidulans hxB and Drosophila melanogaster ma-l genes with nifS from Azotobacter vinelandii suggests a mechanism for the insertion of the terminal sulphur atom in the molybdopterin cofactor.

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  • 1Institut de Génétique et Microbiologie, Université Paris-Sud XI, UMR-CNRS 8621, Centre Universitaire d'Orsay, Bâtiment 409, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France.


The molybdopterin cofactor (MoCF) is required for the activity of a variety of oxidoreductases. The xanthine oxidase class of molybdoenzymes requires the MoCF to have a terminal, cyanolysable sulphur ligand. In the sulphite oxidase/nitrate reductase class, an oxygen is present in the same position. Mutations in both the ma-l gene of Drosophila melanogaster and the hxB gene of Aspergillus nidulans result in loss of activities of all molybdoenzymes that necessitate a cyanolysable sulphur in the active centre. The ma-l and hxB genes encode highly similar proteins containing domains common to pyridoxal phosphate-dependent cysteine transulphurases, including the cofactor binding site and a conserved cysteine, which is the putative sulphur donor. Key similarities were found with NifS, the enzyme involved in the generation of the iron-sulphur centres in nitrogenase. These similarities suggest an analogous mechanism for the generation of the terminal molybdenum-bound sulphur ligand. We have identified putative homologues of these genes in a variety of organisms, including humans. The human homologue is located in chromosome 18.q12.

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