Structure of Precursor-Bound NifEN: A Nitrogenase FeMo Cofactor Maturase/Insertase

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Science  07 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6013, pp. 91-94
DOI: 10.1126/science.1196954

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NifEN plays an essential role in the biosynthesis of the nitrogenase iron-molybdenum (FeMo) cofactor (M cluster). It is an α2β2 tetramer that is homologous to the catalytic molybdenum-iron (MoFe) protein (NifDK) component of nitrogenase. NifEN serves as a scaffold for the conversion of an iron-only precursor to a matured form of the M cluster before delivering the latter to its target location within NifDK. Here, we present the structure of the precursor-bound NifEN of Azotobacter vinelandii at 2.6 angstrom resolution. From a structural comparison of NifEN with des-M-cluster NifDK and holo NifDK, we propose similar pathways of cluster insertion for the homologous NifEN and NifDK proteins.

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