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Methanol dehydrogenases (MDH) have recently taken the spotlight with the discovery that a large portion of these enzymes in nature utilize lanthanides in their active sites. The kinetic parameters of these enzymes are determined with a spectrophotometric assay first described by Anthony and Zatman 55 years ago. This artificial assay uses alkylated phenazines, such as phenazine ethosulfate (PES) or phenazine methosulfate (PMS), as primary electron acceptors (EAs) and the electron transfer is further coupled to a dye. However, many groups have reported problems concerning the bleaching of the assay mixture in the absence of MDH and the reproducibility of those assays. Hence, the comparison of kinetic data among MDH enzymes of different species is often cumbersome. Using mass spectrometry, UV-Vis and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy, we show that the side reactions of the assay mixture are mainly due to the degradation of assay components. Light-induced demethylation (yielding formaldehyde and phenazine in the case of PMS) or oxidation of PES or PMS as well as a reaction with assay components (ammonia, cyanide) can occur. We suggest here a protocol to avoid these side reactions. Further, we describe a modified synthesis protocol for obtaining the alternative electron acceptor, Wurster's blue (WB), which serves both as EA and dye. The investigation of two lanthanide-dependent methanol dehydrogenases from Methylorubrum extorquens AM1 and Methylacidiphilum fumariolicum SolV with WB, along with handling recommendations, is presented. Lanthanide-dependent methanol dehydrogenases. Understanding the chemistry of artificial electron acceptors and redox dyes can yield more reproducible results.


Bérénice Jahn, Niko S W Jonasson, Hurina Hu, Helena Singer, Arjan Pol, Nathan M Good, Huub J M Op den Camp, N Cecilia Martinez-Gomez, Lena J Daumann. Understanding the chemistry of the artificial electron acceptors PES, PMS, DCPIP and Wurster's Blue in methanol dehydrogenase assays. Journal of biological inorganic chemistry : JBIC : a publication of the Society of Biological Inorganic Chemistry. 2020 Mar;25(2):199-212

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PMID: 32060650

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