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J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Dec 28;127(51):18179-89.

Electrochemical definitions of O2 sensitivity and oxidative inactivation in hydrogenases.

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Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QR, UK.


A new strategy is described for comparing, quantitatively, the ability of hydrogenases to tolerate exposure to O2 and anoxic oxidizing conditions. Using protein film voltammetry, the inherent sensitivities to these challenges (thermodynamic potentials and rates of reactions) have been measured for enzymes from a range of mesophilic microorganisms. In the absence of O2, all the hydrogenases undergo reversible inactivation at various potentials above that of the H+/H2 redox couple, and H2 oxidation activities are thus limited to characteristic "potential windows". Reactions with O2 vary greatly; the [FeFe]-hydrogenase from Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ATCC 7757, an anaerobe, is irreversibly damaged by O2, surviving only if exposed to O2 in the anaerobically oxidized state (which therefore affords protection). In contrast, the membrane-bound [NiFe]-hydrogenase from the aerobe, Ralstonia eutropha, reacts reversibly with O2 even during turnover and continues to catalyze H2 oxidation in the presence of O2.

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