The founding members of the HD-domain protein superfamily are phosphohydrolases, and newly discovered members are generally annotated as such. However, myo-inositol oxygenase (MIOX) exemplifies a second, very different function that has evolved within the common scaffold of this superfamily. A recently discovered HD protein, PhnZ, catalyzes conversion of 2-amino-1-hydroxyethylphosphonate to glycine and phosphate, culminating a bacterial pathway for the utilization of environmentally abundant 2-aminoethylphosphonate. Using Mössbauer and EPR spectroscopies, X-ray crystallography, and activity measurements, we show here that, like MIOX, PhnZ employs a mixed-valent Fe(II)/Fe(III) cofactor for the O2-dependent oxidative cleavage of its substrate. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that many more HD proteins may catalyze yet-unknown oxygenation reactions using this hitherto exceptional Fe(II)/Fe(III) cofactor. The results demonstrate that the catalytic repertoire of the HD superfamily extends well beyond phosphohydrolysis and suggest that the mechanism used by MIOX and PhnZ may be a common strategy for oxidative C-X bond cleavage.
Keywords: C-H activation; PhnY; nonheme diiron enzymes; structural genomics; superoxo intermediate.