X-ray absorption studies of Zn2+-binding sites in Escherichia coli transhydrogenase and its beta H91K mutant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • G Veronesi
  • SJ Whitehead
  • F Francia
  • L Giachini
  • F Boscherini
  • G Venturoli
  • Nicholas Cotton

Colleges, School and Institutes


Transhydrogenase couples hydride transfer between NADH and NADP(+) to proton translocation across a membrane. The binding of Zn2+ to the enzyme was shown previously to inhibit steps associated with proton transfer. Using Zn K-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS), we report here on the local structure of Zn2+ bound to Escherichia coli transhydrogenase. Experiments were performed on wild-type enzyme and a mutant in which beta His91 was replaced by Lys (beta H91K). This well-conserved His residue, located in the membrane-spanning domain of the protein, has been suggested to function in proton transfer, and to act as a ligand of the inhibitory Zn2+. The XAFS analysis has identified a Zn2+-binding cluster formed by one Cys, two His, and one Asp/Glu residue, arranged in a tetrahedral geometry. The structure of the site is consistent with the notion that Zn2+ inhibits proton translocation by competing with H+ binding to the His residues. The same cluster of residues with very similar bond lengths best fits the spectra of wild-type transhydrogenase and beta H91K. Evidently, beta His91 is not directly involved in Zn2+ binding. The locus of beta His91 and that of the Zn-binding site, although both on (or close to) the proton-transfer pathway of transhydrogenase, are spatially separate. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-500
Number of pages7
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta. Bioenergetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010


  • Transhydrogenase, Proton translocation, Zinc-binding site, XAFS, Metal-ion inhibition