Reduction of the [2Fe-2S] cluster accompanies formation of the intermediate 9-mercaptodethiobiotin in Escherichia coli biotin synthase

Biochemistry. 2011 Sep 20;50(37):7953-63. doi: 10.1021/bi201042r. Epub 2011 Aug 25.


Biotin synthase catalyzes the conversion of dethiobiotin (DTB) to biotin through the oxidative addition of sulfur between two saturated carbon atoms, generating a thiophane ring fused to the existing ureido ring. Biotin synthase is a member of the radical SAM superfamily, composed of enzymes that reductively cleave S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM or AdoMet) to generate a 5'-deoxyadenosyl radical that can abstract unactivated hydrogen atoms from a variety of organic substrates. In biotin synthase, abstraction of a hydrogen atom from the C9 methyl group of DTB would result in formation of a dethiobiotinyl methylene carbon radical, which is then quenched by a sulfur atom to form a new carbon-sulfur bond in the intermediate 9-mercaptodethiobiotin (MDTB). We have proposed that this sulfur atom is the μ-sulfide of a [2Fe-2S](2+) cluster found near DTB in the enzyme active site. In the present work, we show that formation of MDTB is accompanied by stoichiometric generation of a paramagnetic FeS cluster. The electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectrum is modeled as a 2:1 mixture of components attributable to different forms of a [2Fe-2S](+) cluster, possibly distinguished by slightly different coordination environments. Mutation of Arg260, one of the ligands to the [2Fe-2S] cluster, causes a distinctive change in the EPR spectrum. Furthermore, magnetic coupling of the unpaired electron with (14)N from Arg260, detectable by electron spin envelope modulation (ESEEM) spectroscopy, is observed in WT enzyme but not in the Arg260Met mutant enzyme. Both results indicate that the paramagnetic FeS cluster formed during catalytic turnover is a [2Fe-2S](+) cluster, consistent with a mechanism in which the [2Fe-2S](2+) cluster simultaneously provides and oxidizes sulfide during carbon-sulfur bond formation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biotin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Biotin / chemistry
  • Biotin / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism*
  • Free Radicals / chemistry
  • Free Radicals / metabolism
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / chemistry
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mutation / physiology
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Sulfurtransferases / chemistry
  • Sulfurtransferases / metabolism*


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Free Radicals
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins
  • 9-mercaptodethiobiotin
  • Biotin
  • Sulfurtransferases
  • biotin synthase, E coli