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The Journal of biological chemistry

Identification of a bis-molybdopterin intermediate in molybdenum cofactor biosynthesis in Escherichia coli.


PMID 24003231

Abstract

The molybdenum cofactor is an important cofactor, and its biosynthesis is essential for many organisms, including humans. Its basic form comprises a single molybdopterin (MPT) unit, which binds a molybdenum ion bearing three oxygen ligands via a dithiolene function, thus forming Mo-MPT. In bacteria, this form is modified to form the bis-MPT guanine dinucleotide cofactor with two MPT units coordinated at one molybdenum atom, which additionally contains GMPs bound to the terminal phosphate group of the MPTs (bis-MGD). The MobA protein catalyzes the nucleotide addition to MPT, but the mechanism of the biosynthesis of the bis-MGD cofactor has remained enigmatic. We have established an in vitro system for studying bis-MGD assembly using purified compounds. Quantification of the MPT/molybdenum and molybdenum/phosphorus ratios, time-dependent assays for MPT and MGD detection, and determination of the numbers and lengths of Mo-S and Mo-O bonds by X-ray absorption spectroscopy enabled identification of a novel bis-Mo-MPT intermediate on MobA prior to nucleotide attachment. The addition of Mg-GTP to MobA loaded with bis-Mo-MPT resulted in formation and release of the final bis-MGD product. This cofactor was fully functional and reconstituted the catalytic activity of apo-TMAO reductase (TorA). We propose a reaction sequence for bis-MGD formation, which involves 1) the formation of bis-Mo-MPT, 2) the addition of two GMP units to form bis-MGD on MobA, and 3) the release and transfer of the mature cofactor to the target protein TorA, in a reaction that is supported by the specific chaperone TorD, resulting in an active molybdoenzyme.