A combined computational and experimental investigation of the [2Fe-2S] cluster in biotin synthase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Biotin synthase was the first example of what is now regarded as a distinctive enzyme class within the radical S-adenosylmethionine superfamily, the members of which use Fe/S Clusters as the sulphur source in radical sulphur insertion reactions. The crystal structure showed that this enzyme contains a [2Fe-2S] cluster with a highly unusual arginine ligand, besides three normal cysteine ligands. However, the crystal structure is at such a low resolution that neither the exact coordination mode nor the role of this exceptional ligand has been elucidated yet, although it has been shown that it is not essential for enzyme activity. We have used quantum refinement of the crystal structure and combined quantum mechanical and molecular mechanical calculations to explore possible coordination modes and their influences on Cluster properties. The investigations show that the protonation state of the arginine ligand has little influence on cluster geometry, so even a positively charged guanidinium moiety would be in close proximity to the iron atom. Nevertheless, the crystallised enzyme most probably contains a deprotonated (neutral) arginine coordinating via the NH group. Furthermore, the Fe center dot center dot center dot Fe distance seems to be independent of the coordination mode and is in perfect agreement with distances in other structurally characterised [2Fe-2S] clusters. The exceptionally large Fe center dot center dot center dot Fe distance found in the crystal structure could not be reproduced.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Theoretical Chemistry


  • Quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics, Radical S-adenosylmethionine enzyme, Biotin synthase, Fe/S cluster, Quantum refinement
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-212
JournalJournal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Theoretical Chemistry (S) (011001039)