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Structure. 2005 Nov;13(11):1635-42.

Activation process of [NiFe] hydrogenase elucidated by high-resolution X-ray analyses: conversion of the ready to the unready state.

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  • 1Department of Life Science, Graduate School of Life Science, University of Hyogo and Himeji Institute of Technology, 3-2-1 Koto, Ako-gun, Hyogo 678-1297, Japan.


Hydrogenases catalyze oxidoreduction of molecular hydrogen and have potential applications for utilizing dihydrogen as an energy source. [NiFe] hydrogenase has two different oxidized states, Ni-A (unready, exhibits a lag phase in reductive activation) and Ni-B (ready). We have succeeded in converting Ni-B to Ni-A with the use of Na2S and O2 and determining the high-resolution crystal structures of both states. Ni-B possesses a monatomic nonprotein bridging ligand at the Ni-Fe active site, whereas Ni-A has a diatomic species. The terminal atom of the bridging species of Ni-A occupies a similar position as C of the exogenous CO in the CO complex (inhibited state). The common features of the enzyme structures at the unready (Ni-A) and inhibited (CO complex) states are proposed. These findings provide useful information on the design of new systems of biomimetic dihydrogen production and fuel cell devices.

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