The [NiFe]-hydrogenase of the cyanobacterium synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 works bidirectionally with a bias to H2 production

Chelsea L. McIntosh, Frauke Germer, Rüdiger Schulz, Jens Appel, Anne Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Protein film electrochemistry (PFE) was utilized to characterize the catalytic activity and oxidative inactivation of a bidirectional [NiFe]-hydrogenase (HoxEFUYH) from the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. PFE provides precise control of the redox potential of the adsorbed enzyme so that its activity can be monitored under changing experimental conditions as current. The properties of HoxEFUYH are different from those of both the standard uptake and the "oxygen-tolerant" [NiFe]-hydrogenases. First, HoxEFUYH is biased toward proton reduction as opposed to hydrogen oxidation. Second, despite being expressed under aerobic conditions in vivo, HoxEFUYH is clearly not oxygen-tolerant. Aerobic inactivation of catalytic hydrogen oxidation by HoxEFUYH is total and nearly instantaneous, producing two inactive states. However, unlike the Ni-A and Ni-B inactive states of standard [NiFe]-hydrogenases, both of these states are quickly (<90 s) reactivated by removal of oxygen and exposure to reducing conditions. Third, proton reduction continues at 25 - 50% of the maximal rate in the presence of 1% oxygen. Whereas most previously characterized [NiFe]-hydrogenases seem to be preferential hydrogen oxidizing catalysts, the cyanobacterial enzyme works effectively in both directions. This unusual catalytic bias as well as the ability to be quickly reactivated may be essential to fulfilling the physiological role in cyanobacteria, organisms expected to experience swings in cellular reduction potential as they switch between aerobic conditions in the light and dark anaerobic conditions. Our results suggest that the uptake [NiFe]-hydrogenases alone are not representative of the catalytic diversity of [NiFe]-hydrogenases, and the bidirectional heteromultimeric enzymes may serve as valuable models to understand the diverse mechanisms of tuning the reactivity of the hydrogen activating site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11308-11319
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 27 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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