To investigate the role of protein cavities in facilitating movement of the substrates, methane and dioxygen, in the soluble methane monooxygenase hydroxylase (MMOH), we determined the X-ray structures of MMOH from Methylococcus capsulatus (Bath) cocrystallized with dibromomethane or iodoethane, or by using crystals pressurized with xenon gas. The halogenated alkanes bind in two cavities within the α-subunit that extend from one surface of the protein to the buried dinuclear iron active site. Two additional binding sites were located in the β-subunit. Pressurization of two crystal forms of MMOH with xenon resulted in the identification of six binding sites located exclusively in the α-subunit. These results indicate that hydrophobic species bind preferentially in preexisting cavities in MMOH and support the hypothesis that such cavities may play a functional role in sequestering and enhancing the availability of the physiological substrates for reaction at the active site.
ASJC Scopus subject areas