9-Mercaptodethiobiotin is formed as a competent catalytic intermediate by Escherichia coli biotin synthase

Biochemistry. 2008 Sep 2;47(35):9309-17. doi: 10.1021/bi801035b. Epub 2008 Aug 9.


Biotin synthase (BS) catalyzes the oxidative addition of a sulfur atom to dethiobiotin (DTB) to generate the biotin thiophane ring. This enzyme is an S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) radical enzyme that catalyzes the reductive cleavage of AdoMet, generating methionine and a transient 5'-deoxyadenosyl radical. In our working mechanism, the 5'-deoxyadenosyl radical oxidizes DTB by abstracting a hydrogen from C6 or C9, generating a dethiobiotinyl carbon radical that is quenched by a sulfide from a [2Fe-2S] (2+) cluster. A similar reaction sequence directed at the other position generates the second C-S bond in the thiophane ring. Since the BS active site holds only one AdoMet and one DTB, it follows that dissociation of methionine and 5'-deoxyadenosine and binding of a second equivalent of AdoMet must be intermediate steps in the formation of biotin. During these dissociation-association steps, a discrete DTB-derived intermediate must remain bound to the enzyme. In this work, we confirm that the conversion of DTB to biotin is accompanied by the reductive cleavage of 2 equiv of AdoMet. A discrepancy between DTB consumption and biotin formation suggests the presence of an intermediate, and we use liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to demonstrate that this intermediate is indeed 9-mercaptodethiobiotin, generated at approximately 10% of the total enzyme concentration. The amount of intermediate observed is increased when the reaction is run with substoichiometric levels of AdoMet or with the defective enzyme containing the Asn153Ser mutation. The retention of 9-mercaptodethiobiotin as a tightly bound intermediate is consistent with a mechanism involving the stepwise radical-mediated oxidative abstraction of sulfide from an iron-sulfur cluster.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biotin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Biotin / biosynthesis
  • Biotin / chemistry
  • Biotin / metabolism
  • Catalysis
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Sulfurtransferases / chemistry
  • Sulfurtransferases / genetics
  • Sulfurtransferases / metabolism*


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • 9-mercaptodethiobiotin
  • Biotin
  • desthiobiotin
  • Sulfurtransferases
  • biotin synthase, E coli