Sequencing and analysis of the Methylococcus capsulatus (Bath) soluble methane monooxygenase genes

David E. Coufal, Jessica L. Blazyk, Douglas A. Whittington, Wayne W. Wu, Amy C. Rosenzweig, Stephen J. Lippard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The soluble methane monooxygenase (sMMO) hydroxylase is a prototypical member of the class of proteins with non-heme carboxylate-bridged diiron sites. The sMMO subclass of enzyme systems has several distinguishing characteristics, including the ability to catalyze hydroxylation or epoxidation chemistry, a multisubunit hydroxylase containing diiron centers in its α subunits, and the requirement of a coupling protein for optimal activity. Sequence homology alignment of known members of the sMMO family was performed in an effort to identify protein regions giving rise to these unique features. DNA sequencing of the Methylococcus capsularus (Bath) sMMO genes confirmed previously identified sequencing errors and corrected two additional errors, each of which was confirmed by at least one independent method. Alignments of homologous proteins from sMMO, phenol hydroxylase, toluene 2-, 3-, and 4-monooxygenases, and alkene monooxygenase systems revealed an interesting set of absolutely conserved amino-acid residues, including previously unidentified residues located outside the diiron active site of the hydroxylase. By mapping these residues on to the M. capsulatus (Bath) sMMO hydroxylase crystal structure, functional and structural roles were proposed for the conserved regions. Analysis of the active site showed a highly conserved hydrogen-bonding network on one side of the diiron cluster but little homology on the opposite side, where substrates are presumed to bind. It is suggested that conserved residues on the hydroxylase surface may be important for protein-protein interactions with the reductase and coupling ancillary proteins and/or serve as part of an electron-transfer pathway. A possible way by which binding of the coupling protein at the surface of the hydroxylase might transfer information to the diiron active site at the interior is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2174-2185
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2000


  • DNA sequence
  • Diiron
  • Hydroxylase
  • Methane oxidation
  • Sequence alignment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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