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Crystal Structure of Methyl-Coenzyme M Reductase: The Key Enzyme of Biological Methane Formation

Science  21 Nov 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5342, pp. 1457-1462
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5342.1457

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Abstract

Methyl–coenzyme M reductase (MCR), the enzyme responsible for the microbial formation of methane, is a 300-kilodalton protein organized as a hexamer in an α2β2γ2 arrangement. The crystal structure of the enzyme from Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum, determined at 1.45 angstrom resolution for the inactive enzyme state MCRox1-silent, reveals that two molecules of the nickel porphinoid coenzyme F430 are embedded between the subunits α, α′, β, and γ and α′, α, β′, and γ′, forming two identical active sites. Each site is accessible for the substrate methyl–coenzyme M through a narrow channel locked after binding of the second substrate coenzyme B. Together with a second structurally characterized enzyme state (MCRsilent) containing the heterodisulfide of coenzymes M and B, a reaction mechanism is proposed that uses a radical intermediate and a nickel organic compound.

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