Methyl-coenzyme M reductase (MCR) catalyzes both the synthesis and the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM). Its catalytic site contains Ni at the core of cofactor F430. The Ni ion, in its low-valent Ni(I) state, lights the fuse leading to homolysis of the C-S bond of methyl-coenzyme M (methyl-SCoM) to generate a methyl radical, which abstracts a hydrogen atom from coenzyme B (HSCoB) to generate methane and the mixed disulfide CoMSSCoB. Direct reversal of this reaction activates methane to initiate anaerobic methane oxidation. On the basis of the crystal structures, which reveal a Ni-thiol interaction between Ni(II)-MCR and inhibitor CoMSH, a Ni(I)-thioether complex with substrate methyl-SCoM has been transposed to canonical MCR mechanisms. Similarly, a Ni(I)-disulfide with CoMSSCoB is proposed for the reverse reaction. However, this Ni(I)-sulfur interaction poses a conundrum for the proposed hydrogen-atom abstraction reaction because the >6 Å distance between the thiol group of SCoB and the thiol of SCoM observed in the structures appears to be too long for such a reaction. The spectroscopic, kinetic, structural, and computational studies described here establish that both methyl-SCoM and CoMSSCoB bind to the active Ni(I) state of MCR through their sulfonate groups, forming a hexacoordinate Ni(I)-N/O complex, not Ni(I)-S. These studies rule out direct Ni(I)-sulfur interactions in both substrate-bound states. As a solution to the mechanistic conundrum, we propose that both the forward and the reverse MCR reactions emanate through long-range electron transfer from the Ni(I)-sulfonate complexes with methyl-SCoM and CoMSSCoB, respectively.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry