Discovery and characterization of the first archaeal dihydromethanopterin reductase, an iron-sulfur flavoprotein from Methanosarcina mazei

J Bacteriol. 2014 Jan;196(2):203-9. doi: 10.1128/JB.00457-13. Epub 2013 Aug 30.


The microbial production of methane by methanogenic archaea is dependent on the synthesis of the pterin-containing cofactor tetrahydromethanopterin (H4MPT). The enzyme catalyzing the last step of H4MPT biosynthesis (dihydromethanopterin reductase) has not previously been identified in methane-producing microorganisms. Previous complementation studies with the methylotrophic bacterium Methylobacterium extorquens have indicated that an uncharacterized archaeal-flavoprotein-like flavoprotein (AfpA) from Methylobacillus flagellatus or Burkholderia xenovorans can replace the activity of a phylogenetically unrelated bacterial dihydromethanopterin reductase (DmrA). We propose that MM1854, a homolog of AfpA from Methanosarcina mazei, catalyzes the last step of H4MPT biosynthesis in methane-producing microorganisms. To test this hypothesis, a six-histidine (His6)-tagged version of MM1854 was produced. Bioinformatic analysis revealed the presence of one flavin mononucleotide (FMN)-binding site and two iron-sulfur cluster sites, consistent with an oxidoreductase enzyme. Purified His6-MM1854 occurred as a homodimer of 29-kDa subunits, and the UV-visible spectrum of the purified protein showed absorbance peaks at 380 and 460 nm, characteristic of oxidized FMN. NAD(P)H was incapable of directly reducing the flavin cofactor, but dithionite eliminated the FMN peaks, indicating successful electron transfer to MM1854. An electron transfer system of NADPH, spinach NADPH-ferredoxin oxidoreductase, and ferredoxin could also reduce the FMN peaks. A newly developed assay indicated that dithiothreitol-reduced MM1854 could transfer electrons to dihydromethanopterin. This assay was also effective with a heat-stable DmrX analog from Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (MJ0208). These results provide the first biochemical evidence that MM1854 and MJ0208 function as archaeal dihydromethanopterin reductases (DmrX) and that ferredoxin may serve as an electron donor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Archaeal Proteins / chemistry
  • Archaeal Proteins / genetics
  • Archaeal Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Archaeal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, Affinity
  • Ferredoxins / metabolism*
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / chemistry
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / genetics
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / metabolism*
  • Methanocaldococcus / enzymology*
  • Methanocaldococcus / genetics
  • Methanosarcina / enzymology*
  • Methanosarcina / genetics
  • Molecular Weight
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors / chemistry
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors / isolation & purification
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors / metabolism*
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Protein Subunits / chemistry
  • Pterins / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Spectrum Analysis


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Ferredoxins
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins
  • Isf protein, Methanosarcina thermophila
  • Protein Subunits
  • Pterins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • methanopterin
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors