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Combining a Nitrogenase Scaffold and a Synthetic Compound into an Artificial Enzyme


Nitrogenase catalyzes substrate reduction at its cofactor center ([(Cit)MoFe7S9C](n-); designated M-cluster). Here, we report the formation of an artificial, nitrogenase-mimicking enzyme upon insertion of a synthetic model complex ([Fe6S9(SEt)2](4-); designated Fe6(RHH)) into the catalytic component of nitrogenase (designated NifDK(apo)). Two Fe6(RHH) clusters were inserted into NifDK(apo), rendering the conformation of the resultant protein (designated NifDK(Fe)) similar to the one upon insertion of native M-clusters. NifDK(Fe) can work together with the reductase component of nitrogenase to reduce C2H2 in an ATP-dependent reaction. It can also act as an enzyme on its own in the presence of Eu(II)DTPA, displaying a strong activity in C2H2 reduction while demonstrating an ability to reduce CN(-) to C1-C3 hydrocarbons in an ATP-independent manner. The successful outcome of this work provides the proof of concept and underlying principles for continued search of novel enzymatic activities based on this approach.

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