Biosynthesis of the [FeFe] hydrogenase H-clusterviaa synthetic [Fe(ii)(CN)(CO)2(cysteinate)]complex

R. David Britt, Thomas B. Rauchfuss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The H-cluster of [Fe-Fe] hydrogenase consists of a [4Fe]Hsubcluster linked by the sulfur of a cysteine residue to an organometallic [2Fe]Hsubcluster that utilizes terminal CO and CN ligands to each Fe along with a bridging CO and a bridging SCH2NHCH2S azadithiolate (adt) to catalyze proton reduction or hydrogen oxidation. Three Fe-S “maturase” proteins, HydE, HydF, and HydG, are responsible for the biosynthesis of the [2Fe]Hsubcluster and its incorporation into the hydrogenase enzyme to form this catalytically active H-cluster. We have proposed that HydG is a bifunctional enzyme that usesS-adenosylmethione (SAM) bound to a [4Fe-4S] cluster to lyse tyrosineviaa transient 5′-deoxyadenosyl radical to produce CO and CN ligands to a unique cysteine-chelated Fe(ii) that is linked to a second [4Fe-4S] clusterviathe cysteine sulfur. In this “synthon model”, after two cycles of tyrosine lysis, the product of HydG is completed: a [Fe(CN)(CO)2(cysteinate)]organometallic unit that is vectored directly into the synthesis of the [2Fe]Hsub-cluster. However our HydG-centric synthon model is not universally accepted, so further validation is important. In this Frontiers article, we discuss recent results using a synthetic “Syn-B” complex that donates [Fe(CN)(CO)2(cysteinate)]units that match our proposed HydG product. Can Syn-B activate hydrogenase in the absence of HydG and its tyrosine substrate? If so, since Syn-B can be synthesized with specific magnetic nuclear isotopes and with chemical substitutions, its use could allow its enzymatic conversions on the route to the H-cluster to be monitored and modeled in fresh detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12386-12391
Number of pages6
JournalDalton Transactions
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 28 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Inorganic Chemistry


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