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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2006;60:27-49.

Radical enzymes in anaerobes.

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Fachbereich Biologie, Philipps-Universit├Ąt, D-35032 Marburg, Germany.


This review describes enzymes that contain radicals and/or catalyze reactions with radical intermediates. Because radicals irreversibly react with dioxygen, most of these enzymes occur in anaerobic bacteria and archaea. Exceptions are the families of coenzyme B(12)- and S-adenosylmethionine (SAM)-dependent radical enzymes, of which some members also occur in aerobes. Especially oxygen-sensitive radical enzymes are the glycyl radical enzymes and 2-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydratases. The latter are activated by an ATP-dependent one-electron transfer and act via a ketyl radical anion mechanism. Related enzymes are the ATP-dependent benzoyl-CoA reductase and the ATP-independent 4-hydroxybenzoyl-CoA reductase. Ketyl radical anions may also be generated by one-electron oxidation as shown by the flavin-adenine-dinucleotide (FAD)- and [4Fe-4S]-containing 4-hydroxybutyryl-CoA dehydratase. Finally, two radical enzymes are discussed, pyruvate:ferredoxin oxidoreductase and methane-forming methyl-CoM reductase, which catalyze their main reaction in two-electron steps, but subsequent electron transfers proceed via radicals.

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