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Title: Fundamental Studies of Recombinant Hydrogenases

This research addressed the long term goals of understanding the assembly and organization of hydrogenase enzymes, of reducing them in size and complexity, of determining structure/function relationships, including energy conservation via charge separation across membranes, and in screening for novel H2 catalysts. A key overall goal of the proposed research was to define and characterize minimal hydrogenases that are produced in high yields and are oxygen-resistant. Remarkably, in spite of decades of research carried out on hydrogenases, it is not possible to readily manipulate or design the enzyme using molecular biology approaches since a recombinant form produced in a suitable host is not available. Such resources are essential if we are to understand what constitutes a “minimal” hydrogenase and design such catalysts with certain properties, such as resistance to oxygen, extreme stability and specificity for a given electron donor. The model system for our studies is Pyrococcus furiosus, a hyperthermophile that grows optimally at 100°C, which contains three different nickel-iron [NiFe-] containing hydrogenases. Hydrogenases I and II are cytoplasmic while the other, MBH, is an integral membrane protein that functions to both evolve H2 and pump protons. Three important breakthroughs were made during the funding period with P. furiosus solublemore » hydrogenase I (SHI). First, we produced an active recombinant form of SHI in E. coli by the co-expression of sixteen genes using anaerobically-induced promoters. Second, we genetically-engineered P. furiosus to overexpress SHI by an order of magnitude compared to the wild type strain. Third, we generated the first ‘minimal’ form of SHI, one that contained two rather than four subunits. This dimeric form was stable and active, and directly interacted with a pyruvate-oxidizing enzyme with any intermediate electron carrier. The research resulted in five peer-reviewed publications.« less
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
University of Georgia
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE SC Office of Biological and Environmental Research (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States