Incorporation of Ni2+, Co2+, and Selenocysteine into the Auxiliary Fe-S Cluster of the Radical SAM Enzyme HydG

Guodong Rao, Katherine B. Alwan, Ninian J. Blackburn, R. David Britt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The radical SAM enzyme HydG generates CO- and CN--containing Fe complexes that are involved in the bioassembly of the [FeFe] hydrogenase active cofactor, the H-cluster. HydG contains a unique 5Fe-4S cluster in which the fifth "dangler" Fe and the coordinating cysteine molecule have both been shown to be essential for its function. Here, we demonstrate that this dangler Fe can be replaced with Ni2+ or Co2+ and that the cysteine can be replaced with selenocysteine. The resulting HydG variants were characterized by electron paramagnetic resonance and X-ray absorption spectroscopy, as well as subjected to a Tyr cleavage assay. Both Ni2+ and Co2+ are shown to be exchange-coupled to the 4Fe-4S cluster, and selenocysteine substitution does not alter the electronic structure significantly. XAS data provide details of the coordination environments near the Ni, Co, and Se atoms and support a close interaction of the dangler metal with the FeS cluster via an asymmetric SeCys bridge. Finally, while we were unable to observe the formation of novel organometallic species for the Ni2+ and Co2+ variants, the selenocysteine variant retains the activity of wild type HydG in forming [Fe(CO)x(CN)y] species. Our results provide more insights into the unique auxiliary cluster in HydG and expand the scope of artificially generated Fe-S clusters with heteroatoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12601-12608
Number of pages8
JournalInorganic Chemistry
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 7 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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