Discovery of a functional, contracted heme-binding motif within a multiheme cytochrome

Christina Ferousi, Simon Lindhoud, Frauke Baymann, Eric R. Hester, Joachim Reimann, Boran Karta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Anaerobic ammonium-oxidizing (anammox) bacteria convert nitrite and ammonium via nitric oxide (NO) and hydrazine into dinitrogen gas by using a diverse array of proteins, including numerous c-type cytochromes.Many new catalytic and spectroscopic properties of c-type cytochromes have been unraveled by studies on the biochemical pathways underlying the anammox process. The unique anammox intermediate hydrazine is produced by a multiheme cytochrome c protein, hydrazine synthase, through the comproportionation of ammonium and NO and the input of three electrons. It is unclear how these electrons are delivered to hydrazine synthase. Here, we report the discovery of a functional tetraheme c-type cytochrome from the anammox bacterium Kuenenia stuttgartiensis with a naturally-occurring contracted Cys-Lys-Cys-His (CKCH) heme-binding motif, which is encoded in the hydrazine synthase gene cluster. The purified tetraheme protein (named KsTH) exchanged electrons with hydrazine synthase. Complementary spectroscopic techniques revealed that this protein harbors four low-spin hexa-coordinated hemes with His/Lys (heme 1), His/Cys (heme 2), and two His/His ligations (hemes 3 and 4). A genomic database search revealed that c-type cytochromes with a contracted CXCH heme-binding motif are present throughout the bacterial and archaeal domains in the tree of life, suggesting that this heme recognition site may be employed by many different groups of microorganisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16953-16965
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number45
Early online date3 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

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