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  1. Abstract Modern day aerobic respiration in mitochondria involving complex I converts redox energy into chemical energy and likely evolved from a simple anaerobic system now represented by hydrogen gas-evolving hydrogenase (MBH) where protons are the terminal electron acceptor. Here we present the cryo-EM structure of an early ancestor in the evolution of complex I, the elemental sulfur (S 0 )-reducing reductase MBS. Three highly conserved protein loops linking cytoplasmic and membrane domains enable scalable energy conversion in all three complexes. MBS contains two proton pumps compared to one in MBH and likely conserves twice the energy. The structure also reveals evolutionary adaptations of MBH that enabled S 0 reduction by MBS catalyzed by a site-differentiated iron-sulfur cluster without participation of protons or amino acid residues. This is the simplest mechanism proposed for reduction of inorganic or organic disulfides. It is of fundamental significance in the iron and sulfur-rich volcanic environments of early earth and possibly the origin of life. MBS provides a new perspective on the evolution of modern-day respiratory complexes and of catalysis by biological iron-sulfur clusters. 
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  2. Metal-ligand cooperativity is an essential feature of bioinorganic catalysis. The design principles of such cooperativity in metalloenzymes are underexplored, but are critical to understand for developing efficient catalysts designed with earth abundant metals for small molecule activation. The simple substrate requirements of reversible proton reduction by the [NiFe]-hydrogenases make them a model bioinorganic system. A highly conserved arginine residue (R355) directly above the exogenous ligand binding position of the [NiFe]-catalytic core is known to be essential for optimal function because mutation to a lysine results in lower catalytic rates. To expand on our studies of soluble hydrogenase-1 from Pyrococcus furiosus (Pf SH1), we investigated the role of R355 by site-directed-mutagenesis to a lysine (R355K) using infrared and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopic probes sensitive to active site redox and protonation events. It was found the mutation resulted in an altered ligand binding environment at the [NiFe] centre. A key observation was destabilization of the Nia3+-C state, which contains a bridging hydride. Instead the tautomeric Nia+-L states were observed. Overall, the results provided insight into complex metal-ligand cooperativity between the active site and protein scaffold that modulates the bridging hydride stability and the proton inventory, which should prove valuable to design principles for efficient bioinspired catalysts. 
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  3. A series of viologen related redox mediators of varying reduction potential has been characterized and their utility as electron shuttles between CdSe quantum dots and hydrogenase enzyme has been demonstrated. Tuning the mediator LUMO energy optimizes peformance of this hybrid photocatalytic system by balancing electron transfer rates of the shuttle 
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