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Proposed Mechanism for the Biosynthesis of the [FeFe] Hydrogenase H-Cluster: Central Roles for the Radical SAM Enzymes HydG and HydE.


Radical S-adenosylmethionine (radical SAM or rSAM) enzymes use their S-adenosylmethionine cofactor bound to a unique Fe of a [4Fe-4S] cluster to generate the "hot" 5'-deoxyadenosyl radical, which drives highly selective radical reactions via specific interactions with a given rSAM enzyme's substrate. This Perspective focuses on the two rSAM enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of the organometallic H-cluster of [FeFe] hydrogenases. We present here a detailed sequential model initiated by HydG, which lyses a tyrosine substrate via a 5'-deoxyadenosyl H atom abstraction from those amino acid's amino group, initially producing dehydroglycine and an oxidobenzyl radical. In this model, two successive radical cascade reactions lead ultimately to the formation of HydG's product, a mononuclear Fe organometallic complex: [Fe(II)(CN)(CO)2(cysteinate)]-, with the iron originating from a unique "dangler" Fe coordinated by a cysteine ligand providing a sulfur bridge to another [4Fe-4S] auxiliary cluster in the enzyme. In turn, in this model, [Fe(II)(CN)(CO)2(cysteinate)]- is the substrate for HydE, the second rSAM enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway, which activates this mononuclear organometallic unit for dimerization, forming a [Fe2S2(CO)4(CN)2] precursor to the [2Fe] H component of the H-cluster, requiring only the completion of the bridging azadithiolate (SCH2NHCH2S) ligand. This model is built upon a foundation of data that incorporates cell-free synthesis, isotope sensitive spectroscopies, and the selective use of synthetic complexes substituting for intermediates in the enzymatic "assembly line". We discuss controversies pertaining to this model and some remaining open issues to be addressed by future work.

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