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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 May 23;134(20):8416-9. doi: 10.1021/ja303265m. Epub 2012 May 10.

ATP-uncoupled, six-electron photoreduction of hydrogen cyanide to methane by the molybdenum-iron protein.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, 92093-0356, United States.


A detailed study of the eight-electron/eight-proton catalytic reaction of nitrogenase has been hampered by the fact that electron and proton flow in this system is controlled by ATP-dependent protein-protein interactions. Recent studies have shown that it is possible to circumvent the dependence on ATP through the use of potent small-molecule reductants or light-driven electron injection, but success has been limited to two-electron reductions of hydrazine, acetylene, or protons. Here we show that a variant of the molybdenum-iron protein labeled with a Ru-photosensitizer can support the light-driven, six-electron catalytic reduction of hydrogen cyanide into methane and likely also ammonia. Our findings suggest that the efficiency of this light-driven system is limited by the initial one- or two-electron reduction of the catalytic cofactor (FeMoco) to enable substrate binding, but the subsequent electron-transfer steps into the FeMoco-bound substrate proceed efficiently.

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