Methane-oxidizing microbes catalyze the oxidation of the greenhouse gas methane using the copper-dependent enzyme particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO). Isolated pMMO exhibits lower activity than whole cells, however, suggesting that additional components may be required. A pMMO homolog, ammonia monooxygenase (AMO), converts ammonia to hydroxylamine in ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) which produce another potent greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide. Here we show that PmoD, a protein encoded within many pmo operons that is homologous to the AmoD proteins encoded within AOB amo operons, forms a copper center that exhibits the features of a well-defined CuA site using a previously unobserved ligand set derived from a cupredoxin homodimer. PmoD is critical for copper-dependent growth on methane, and genetic analyses strongly support a role directly related to pMMO and AMO. These findings identify a copper-binding protein that may represent a missing link in the function of enzymes critical to the global carbon and nitrogen cycles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)