Radical S-adenosyl-L-methionine enzymes: radical control and assembly of complex metallocofactors

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Electrons, whether from carbon-based radicals or metals, can generate oxidative stress and disease in biological systems; however, when directed properly by a protein, these electrons are responsible for crucial life-sustaining reactions, including photosynthesis, oxygen transport in blood, and nitrogen fixation. Beneficial use of radicals and metallocofactors is abundant in nature, and both are essential in one of the largest superfamilies in biology - the radical SAM (RS) enzyme superfamily. Found in all kingdoms of life, RS enzymes contribute to critical processes such as DNA repair, complex metallocluster assembly, and vitamin synthesis. Understanding how metalloenzymes, such as RS enzymes, control electron flow is critical for comprehending biological system functionality and potentially improving productivity through rational design. This work examines radical control in RS enzyme mechanism and then expands scope to consider RS enzyme contribution to assembly of the complex metallocluster (Hcluster) of [FeFe]-hydrogenase. Focusing in on the fundamental chemistry of RS enzyme radical initiation, this work investigated intermediate states in 5'deoxyadenosyl radical formation by: 1) slowing the radical reaction with a SAM analogue, anSAM, and 2) swiftly stopping catalysis via rapid freeze quench techniques. Employing primarily EPR and ENDOR spectroscopies, two intermediate states were characterized: 1) an analogue of the 5'-deoxyadenosyl radical, formed from anSAM, and 2) an organometallic intermediate, Omega, formed during reaction with SAM. To probe how certain RS enzymes (HydE and HydG) contribute to build the 2Fe H-cluster subcluster precursor on the [FeFe]-hydrogenase scaffold HydF, FeS cluster intermediate states were analyzed using UV-Vis, EPR, FTIR, CD, Mossbauer spectroscopies and gas chromatography. These results demonstrate: 1) HydF initially binds a [4Fe-4S] and a [2Fe-2S] cluster, 2) HydG contributes small molecule diatomics and perturbs the [2Fe-2S] cluster environment, 3) HydE can generate a subcluster precursor on HydF capable of generating catalytically active HydA, and 4) the HydF dimer, not tetramer, delivers the 2Fe H-cluster subcluster precursor for activation. Collectively, this thesis illuminates key mechanistic states RS enzymes use to productively control the 5'deoxyadenosyl radical during catalysis and identifies [FeFe]-hydrogenase H-cluster precursor intermediates suggesting RS enzyme sequentiality.




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