Mo nitrogenase (N2ase) utilizes a two-component protein system, the catalytic MoFe and its electron-transfer partner FeP, to reduce atmospheric dinitrogen (N2) to ammonia (NH3). The FeMo cofactor contained in the MoFe protein serves as the catalytic center for this reaction and has long inspired model chemistry oriented toward activating N2. This field of chemistry has relied heavily on the detailed characterization of how Mo N2ase accomplishes this feat. Understanding the reaction mechanism of Mo N2ase itself has presented one of the most challenging problems in bioinorganic chemistry because of the ephemeral nature of its catalytic intermediates, which are difficult, if not impossible, to singly isolate. This is further exacerbated by the near necessity of FeP to reduce native MoFe, rendering most traditional means of selective reduction inept. We have now investigated the first fundamental intermediate of the MoFe catalytic cycle, E1, as prepared both by low-flux turnover and radiolytic cryoreduction, using a combination of Mo Kα high-energy-resolution fluorescence detection and Fe K-edge partial-fluorescence-yield X-ray absorption spectroscopy techniques. The results demonstrate that the formation of this state is the result of an Fe-centered reduction and that Mo remains redox-innocent. Furthermore, using Fe X-ray absorption and 57Fe Mössbauer spectroscopies, we correlate a previously reported unique species formed under cryoreducing conditions to the natively formed E1 state through annealing, demonstrating the viability of cryoreduction in studying the catalytic intermediates of MoFe.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry