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J Biol Chem. 1982 Jul 25;257(14):7926-9.

A selenium-containing hydrogenase from Methanococcus vannielii. Identification of the selenium moiety as a selenocysteine residue.


A 75Se-labeled hydrogenase was purified to near homogeneity from extracts of Methanococcus vannielii cells grown in the presence of [75Se]selenite. The molecular weight of the enzyme was estimated as 340,000 by gel filtration. The enzyme tends to aggregate and occurs also as a larger protein species (Mr = 1.3 x 10(6)). The same phenomenon was observed on native gel electrophoretic analysis. Hydrogenase activity exhibited by these two protein bands was proportional to protein and 75Se content. Both molecular species reduce the natural cofactor, 8-hydroxy-5-deazaflavin, and tetrazolium dyes with molecular hydrogen. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-gel electrophoresis of 75Se-labeled enzyme showed that 75Se is present exclusively in an Mr = 42,000 subunit. A value of 3.8 g atoms of selenium/mol of enzyme (Mr = 340,000) was determined by atomic absorption analysis. The chemical form of selenium in the enzyme was shown to be selenocysteine. This was identified as the [75Se]carboxymethyl and [75Se]carboxyethyl derivatives in acid hydrolysates of alkylated 75Se-labeled protein. The hydrogenase is extremely oxygen-sensitive but can be reactivated by incubation with molecular hydrogen and dithiothreitol.

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