Biotin synthase contains two distinct iron-sulfur cluster binding sites: chemical and spectroelectrochemical analysis of iron-sulfur cluster interconversions

Biochemistry. 2001 Jul 27;40(28):8343-51. doi: 10.1021/bi0104625.


Biotin synthase is an iron-sulfur protein that utilizes AdoMet to catalyze the presumed radical-mediated insertion of a sulfur atom between the saturated C6 and C9 carbons of dethiobiotin. Biotin synthase (BioB) is aerobically purified as a dimer that contains [2Fe-2S](2+) clusters and is inactive in the absence of additional iron and reductants, and anaerobic reduction of BioB with sodium dithionite results in conversion to enzyme containing [4Fe-4S](2+) and/or [4Fe-4S](+) clusters. To establish the predominant cluster forms present in biotin synthase in anaerobic assays, and by inference in Escherichia coli, we have accurately determined the extinction coefficient and cluster content of the enzyme under oxidized and reduced conditions and have examined the equilibrium reduction potentials at which cluster reductions and conversions occur as monitored by UV/visible and EPR spectroscopy. In contrast to previous reports, we find that aerobically purified BioB contains ca. 1.2-1.5 [2Fe-2S](2+) clusters per monomer with epsilon(452) = 8400 M(-)(1) cm(-)(1) per monomer. Upon reduction, the [2Fe-2S](2+) clusters are converted to [4Fe-4S] clusters with two widely separate reduction potentials of -140 and -430 mV. BioB reconstituted with excess iron and sulfide in 60% ethylene glycol was found to contain two [4Fe-4S](2+) clusters per monomer with epsilon(400) = 30 000 M(-)(1) cm(-)(1) per monomer and is reduced with lower midpoint potentials of -440 and -505 mV, respectively. Finally, as predicted by the measured redox potentials, enzyme incubated under typical anaerobic assay conditions is repurified containing one [2Fe-2S](2+) cluster and one [4Fe-4S](2+) cluster per monomer. These results indicate that the dominant stable cluster state for biotin synthase is a dimer containing two [2Fe-2S](2+) and two [4Fe-4S](2+) clusters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis
  • Binding Sites
  • Cryoprotective Agents / chemistry
  • Dimerization
  • Dithionite
  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Ethylene Glycol / chemistry
  • Iron / chemistry*
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / chemistry
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Potentiometry
  • Sulfur / chemistry*
  • Sulfur / metabolism
  • Sulfurtransferases / chemistry*
  • Sulfurtransferases / isolation & purification
  • Sulfurtransferases / metabolism


  • Cryoprotective Agents
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins
  • Dithionite
  • Sulfur
  • Iron
  • Sulfurtransferases
  • biotin synthetase
  • Ethylene Glycol