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Structure. 2006 Sep;14(9):1377-88.

Crystal structure of ethylbenzene dehydrogenase from Aromatoleum aromaticum.

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Institut für Organische Chemie und Biochemie, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Albertstr. 21, D-79104 Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.


Anaerobic degradation of hydrocarbons was discovered a decade ago, and ethylbenzene dehydrogenase was one of the first characterized enzymes involved. The structure of the soluble periplasmic 165 kDa enzyme was established at 1.88 A resolution. It is a heterotrimer. The alpha subunit contains the catalytic center with a molybdenum held by two molybdopterin-guanine dinucleotides, one with an open pyran ring, and an iron-sulfur cluster with a histidine ligand. During catalysis, electrons produced by substrate oxidation are transferred to a heme in the gamma subunit and then presumably to a separate cytochrome involved in nitrate respiration. The beta subunit contains four iron-sulfur clusters and is structurally related to ferredoxins. The gamma subunit is the first known protein with a methionine and a lysine as axial heme ligands. The catalytic product was modeled into the active center, showing the reaction geometry. A mechanism consistent with activity and inhibition data of ethylbenzene-related compounds is proposed.

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