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Biochemistry. 2004 May 11;43(18):5324-33.

The catalytic subunit of Escherichia coli nitrate reductase A contains a novel [4Fe-4S] cluster with a high-spin ground state.

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CIHR Membrane Protein Research Group, Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, 474 Medical Sciences Building, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H7, Canada.


We have used EPR spectroscopy, redox potentiometry, and protein crystallography to characterize the [4Fe-4S] cluster (FS0) of the Escherichia coli nitrate reductase A (NarGHI) catalytic subunit (NarG). FS0 is clearly visible in the crystal structure of NarGHI [Bertero, M. G., et al. (2003) Nat. Struct. Biol. 10, 681-687] but has novel coordination comprising one His residue and three Cys residues. At low temperatures (<15 K), reduced NarGHI exhibits a previously unobserved EPR signal comprising peaks at g = 5.023 and g = 5.556. We have assigned these features to a [4Fe-4S](+) cluster with an S = (3)/(2) ground state, with the g = 5.023 and g = 5.556 peaks corresponding to subpopulations exhibiting DeltaS = (1)/(2) and DeltaS = (3)/(2) transitions, respectively. Both peaks exhibit midpoint potentials of approximately -55 mV at pH 8.0 and are eliminated in the EPR spectrum of apomolybdo-NarGHI. The structure of apomolybdo-NarGHI reveals that FS0 is still present but that there is significant conformational disorder in a segment of residues that includes one of the Cys ligands. On the basis of these observations, we have assigned the high-spin EPR features of reduced NarGHI to FS0.

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