Biosynthetic versatility and coordinated action of 5'-deoxyadenosyl radicals in deazaflavin biosynthesis

J Am Chem Soc. 2015 Apr 29;137(16):5406-13. doi: 10.1021/ja513287k. Epub 2015 Apr 20.


Coenzyme F420 is a redox cofactor found in methanogens and in various actinobacteria. Despite the major biological importance of this cofactor, the biosynthesis of its deazaflavin core (8-hydroxy-5-deazaflavin, F(o)) is still poorly understood. F(o) synthase, the enzyme involved, is an unusual multidomain radical SAM enzyme that uses two separate 5'-deoxyadenosyl radicals to catalyze F(o) formation. In this paper, we report a detailed mechanistic study on this complex enzyme that led us to identify (1) the hydrogen atoms abstracted from the substrate by the two radical SAM domains, (2) the second tyrosine-derived product, (3) the reaction product of the CofH-catalyzed reaction, (4) the demonstration that this product is a substrate for CofG, and (5) a stereochemical study that is consistent with the formation of a p-hydroxybenzyl radical at the CofH active site. These results enable us to propose a mechanism for F(o) synthase and uncover a new catalytic motif in radical SAM enzymology involving the use of two 5'-deoxyadenosyl radicals to mediate the formation of a complex heterocycle.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actinobacteria / chemistry
  • Actinobacteria / enzymology*
  • Actinobacteria / metabolism
  • Biosynthetic Pathways
  • Free Radicals / chemistry
  • Free Radicals / metabolism*
  • Riboflavin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Riboflavin / chemistry
  • Riboflavin / metabolism
  • Riboflavin Synthase / metabolism*
  • Tyrosine / chemistry
  • Tyrosine / metabolism


  • Free Radicals
  • Tyrosine
  • coenzyme F420
  • Riboflavin Synthase
  • Riboflavin