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American Chemical Society

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A new method to trap catalytic intermediate species was employed with Fe-type nitrile hydratase from Rhodococcus equi TG328-2 (ReNHase). ReNHase was incubated with substrates in a 23% (w/w) NaCl/H2O eutectic system that remained liquid at −20 °C, thereby permitting the observation of transient species that were present at electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR)-detectable levels in samples frozen while in the steady state. FeIII-EPR signals from the resting enzyme were unaffected by the presence of 23% NaCl, and the catalytic activity was ∼55% that in the absence of NaCl at the optimum pH of 7.5. The reaction of ReNHase in the eutectic system at −20 °C with the substrates acetonitrile or benzonitrile induced significant changes in the EPR spectra. A previously unobserved signal with highly rhombic g-values (g1 = 2.31) was observed during the steady state but did not persist beyond the exhaustion of the substrate, indicating that it arises from a catalytically competent intermediate. Distinct signals due to product complexes provide a detailed mechanism for product release, the rate-limiting step of the reaction. Assignment of the observed EPR signals was facilitated by density functional theory calculations, which provided candidate structures and g-values for various proposed ReNHase intermediates. Collectively, these results provide new insights into the catalytic mechanism of NHase and offer a new approach for isolating and characterizing EPR-active intermediates in metalloenzymes.


Accepted version. Biochemistry, Vol. 60, No. 49 (November 2021): 3771-3782. DOI. © 2021 American Chemical Society. Used with permission.

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