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J Phys Chem B. 2014 Dec 4;118(48):13800-11. doi: 10.1021/jp5089965. Epub 2014 Nov 21.

Multiscale simulations give insight into the hydrogen in and out pathways of [NiFe]-hydrogenases from Aquifex aeolicus and Desulfovibrio fructosovorans.

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Laboratoire de Biochimie Théorique, CNRS UPR9080, Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique , 13 rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris, France.


[NiFe]-hydrogenases catalyze the cleavage of molecular hydrogen into protons and electrons and represent promising tools for H2-based technologies such as biofuel cells. However, many aspects of these enzymes remain to be understood, in particular how the catalytic center can be protected from irreversible inactivation by O2. In this work, we combined homology modeling, all-atom molecular dynamics, and coarse-grain Brownian dynamics simulations to investigate and compare the dynamic and mechanical properties of two [NiFe]-hydrogenases: the soluble O2-sensitive enzyme from Desulfovibrio fructosovorans, and the O2-tolerant membrane-bound hydrogenase from Aquifex aeolicus. We investigated the diffusion pathways of H2 from the enzyme surface to the central [NiFe] active site, and the possible proton pathways that are used to evacuate hydrogen after the oxidation reaction. Our results highlight common features of the two enzymes, such as a Val/Leu/Arg triad of key residues that controls ligand migration and substrate access in the vicinity of the active site, or the key role played by a Glu residue for proton transfer after hydrogen oxidation. We show specificities of each hydrogenase regarding the enzymes internal tunnel network or the proton transport pathways.

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