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Pyruvate ferredoxin oxidoreductase (PFOR) is central to the anaerobic metabolism of many bacteria and amitochondriate eukaryotes. PFOR contains thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) and three [4Fe-4S] clusters, which link pyruvate oxidation to reduction of ferredoxin. In the PFOR reaction, TPP reacts with pyruvate to form lactyl-TPP, which undergoes decarboxylation to form a hydroxyethyl-TPP (HE-TPP) intermediate. One electron is then transferred from HE-TPP to one of the three [4Fe-4S] clusters to form an HE-TPP radical and a [4Fe-4S]1+ intermediate. Pulsed EPR methods have been used to measure the distance between the HE-TPP radical and the [4Fe-4S]1+ cluster to which it is coupled. Computational analysis including the PFOR crystal structure and the spin distribution in the HE-TPP radical and in the reduced [4Fe-4S] cluster demonstrates that the distance between the HE-TPP radical and the medial cluster B matches the experimentally determined dipolar interaction, while one of the other two clusters is too close and the other is too far away. These results clearly demonstrate that it is the medial cluster (cluster B) that is reduced. Thus, rapid electron transfer occurs through the electron-transfer chain, which leaves an oxidized proximal cluster poised to accept an electron from the HE-TPP radical in the subsequent reaction step.


Andrei V Astashkin, Javier Seravalli, Steven O Mansoorabadi, George H Reed, Stephen W Ragsdale. Pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance experiments identify the paramagnetic intermediates in the pyruvate ferredoxin oxidoreductase catalytic cycle. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2006 Mar 29;128(12):3888-9

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PMID: 16551078

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