- Electron bifurcation plays a key role in anaerobic energy metabolism, but it is a relatively new discovery, and only limited mechanistic information is available on the diverse enzymes that employ it. Herein, we focused on the bifurcating electron transfer flavoprotein (ETF) from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrobaculum aerophilum. The EtfABCX enzyme complex couples NADH oxidation to the endergonic reduction of ferredoxin and exergonic reduction of menaquinone. We developed a model for the enzyme structure by using nondenaturing MS, cross-linking, and homology modeling in which EtfA, -B, and -C each contained FAD, whereas EtfX contained two [4Fe-4S] clusters.
- Hyperthermophilic archaea contain a hydrogen gas–evolving,respiratory membrane–bound NiFe-hydrogenase (MBH) that is very closely related to the aerobic respiratory complex I. During growth on elemental sulfur (S°), these microorganisms also produce a homologous membrane-bound complex (MBX), which generates H2S. MBX evolutionarily links MBH to complex I, but its catalytic function is unknown. Herein, we show that MBX reduces the sulfane sulfur of polysulfides by using ferredoxin (Fd) as the electron donor, and we rename it membrane-bound sulfane reductase (MBS).
- Flavin-based electron transfer bifurcation is emerging as a fundamental and powerful mechanism for conservation and deployment of electrochemical energy in enzymatic systems. In this process, a pair of electrons is acquired at intermediate reduction potential (i.e. intermediate reducing power), and each electron is passed to a different acceptor, one with lower and the other with higher reducing power, leading to “bifurcation.” It is believed that a strongly reducing semiquinone species is essential for this process, and it is expected that this species should be kinetically short-lived.