Research ArticleBIOCHEMISTRY

Dimeric structures of quinol-dependent nitric oxide reductases (qNORs) revealed by cryo–electron microscopy

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Science Advances  28 Aug 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 8, eaax1803
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax1803


Quinol-dependent nitric oxide reductases (qNORs) are membrane-integrated, iron-containing enzymes of the denitrification pathway, which catalyze the reduction of nitric oxide (NO) to the major ozone destroying gas nitrous oxide (N2O). Cryo–electron microscopy structures of active qNOR from Alcaligenes xylosoxidans and an activity-enhancing mutant have been determined to be at local resolutions of 3.7 and 3.2 Å, respectively. They unexpectedly reveal a dimeric conformation (also confirmed for qNOR from Neisseria meningitidis) and define the active-site configuration, with a clear water channel from the cytoplasm. Structure-based mutagenesis has identified key residues involved in proton transport and substrate delivery to the active site of qNORs. The proton supply direction differs from cytochrome c–dependent NOR (cNOR), where water molecules from the cytoplasm serve as a proton source similar to those from cytochrome c oxidase.

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