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Biochemistry. 2016 Mar 29;55(12):1689-701. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.5b01328. Epub 2016 Mar 14.

[NiFe]-Hydrogenase Maturation.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto , Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3H6.
Department of Biochemistry, University of Toronto , Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1A8.


[NiFe]-hydrogenases catalyze the reversible conversion of hydrogen gas into protons and electrons and are vital metabolic components of many species of bacteria and archaea. At the core of this enzyme is a sophisticated catalytic center comprising nickel and iron, as well as cyanide and carbon monoxide ligands, which is anchored to the large hydrogenase subunit through cysteine residues. The production of this multicomponent active site is accomplished by a collection of accessory proteins and can be divided into discrete stages. The iron component is fashioned by the proteins HypC, HypD, HypE, and HypF, which functionalize iron with cyanide and carbon monoxide. Insertion of the iron center signals to the metallochaperones HypA, HypB, and SlyD to selectively deliver the nickel to the active site. A specific protease recognizes the completed metal cluster and then cleaves the C-terminus of the large subunit, resulting in a conformational change that locks the active site in place. Finally, the large subunit associates with the small subunit, and the complete holoenzyme translocates to its final cellular position. Beyond this broad overview of the [NiFe]-hydrogenase maturation process, biochemical and structural studies are revealing the fundamental underlying molecular mechanisms. Here, we review recent work illuminating how the accessory proteins contribute to the maturation of [NiFe]-hydrogenase and discuss some of the outstanding questions that remain to be resolved.

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