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Bacterial nitrate reductases: Molecular and biological aspects of nitrate reduction, Gonzalez, P. J., Correia C., Moura I., Brondino C. D., and Moura J. J. , J Inorg Biochem, May, Volume 100, Number 5-6, p.1015-23, (2006) AbstractWebsite

Nitrogen is a vital component in living organisms as it participates in the making of essential biomolecules such as proteins, nucleic acids, etc. In the biosphere, nitrogen cycles between the oxidation states +V and -III producing many species that constitute the biogeochemical cycle of nitrogen. All reductive branches of this cycle involve the conversion of nitrate to nitrite, which is catalyzed by the enzyme nitrate reductase. The characterization of nitrate reductases from prokaryotic organisms has allowed us to gain considerable information on the molecular basis of nitrate reduction. Prokaryotic nitrate reductases are mononuclear Mo-containing enzymes sub-grouped as respiratory nitrate reductases, periplasmic nitrate reductases and assimilatory nitrate reductases. We review here the biological and molecular properties of these three enzymes along with their gene organization and expression, which are necessary to understand the biological processes involved in nitrate reduction.

Benefits of membrane electrodes in the electrochemistry of metalloproteins: mediated catalysis of Paracoccus pantotrophus cytochrome c peroxidase by horse cytochrome c: a case study, Paes de Sousa, P. M., Pauleta S. R., Rodrigues D., Simoes Goncalves M. L., Pettigrew G. W., Moura I., Moura J. J., and Correia dos Santos M. M. , J Biol Inorg Chem, Jun, Volume 13, Number 5, p.779-87, (2008) AbstractWebsite

A comparative study of direct and mediated electrochemistry of metalloproteins in bulk and membrane-entrapped solutions is presented. This work reports the first electrochemical study of the electron transfer between a bacterial cytochrome c peroxidase and horse heart cytochrome c. The mediated catalysis of the peroxidase was analysed both using the membrane electrode configuration and with all proteins in solution. An apparent Michaelis constant of 66 +/- 4 and 42 +/- 5 microM was determined at pH 7.0 and 0 M NaCl for membrane and bulk solutions, respectively. The data revealed that maximum activity occurs at 50 mM NaCl, pH 7.0, with intermolecular rate constants of (4.4 +/- 0.5) x 10(6) and (1.0 +/- 0.5) x 10(6) M(-1) s(-1) for membrane-entrapped and bulk solutions, respectively. The influence of parameters such as pH or ionic strength on the mediated catalytic activity was analysed using this approach, drawing attention to the fact that careful analysis of the results is needed to ensure that no artefacts are introduced by the use of the membrane configuration and/or promoters, and therefore the dependence truly reflects the influence of these parameters on the (mediated) catalysis. From the pH dependence, a pK of 7.5 was estimated for the mediated enzymatic catalysis.

BiGGER: a new (soft) docking algorithm for predicting protein interactions, Palma, P. N., Krippahl L., Wampler J. E., and Moura J. J. , Proteins, Jun 1, Volume 39, Number 4, p.372-84, (2000) AbstractWebsite

A new computationally efficient and automated "soft docking" algorithm is described to assist the prediction of the mode of binding between two proteins, using the three-dimensional structures of the unbound molecules. The method is implemented in a software package called BiGGER (Bimolecular Complex Generation with Global Evaluation and Ranking) and works in two sequential steps: first, the complete 6-dimensional binding spaces of both molecules is systematically searched. A population of candidate protein-protein docked geometries is thus generated and selected on the basis of the geometric complementarity and amino acid pairwise affinities between the two molecular surfaces. Most of the conformational changes observed during protein association are treated in an implicit way and test results are equally satisfactory, regardless of starting from the bound or the unbound forms of known structures of the interacting proteins. In contrast to other methods, the entire molecular surfaces are searched during the simulation, using absolutely no additional information regarding the binding sites. In a second step, an interaction scoring function is used to rank the putative docked structures. The function incorporates interaction terms that are thought to be relevant to the stabilization of protein complexes. These include: geometric complementarity of the surfaces, explicit electrostatic interactions, desolvation energy, and pairwise propensities of the amino acid side chains to contact across the molecular interface. The relative functional contribution of each of these interaction terms to the global scoring function has been empirically adjusted through a neural network optimizer using a learning set of 25 protein-protein complexes of known crystallographic structures. In 22 out of 25 protein-protein complexes tested, near-native docked geometries were found with C(alpha) RMS deviations < or =4.0 A from the experimental structures, of which 14 were found within the 20 top ranking solutions. The program works on widely available personal computers and takes 2 to 8 hours of CPU time to run any of the docking tests herein presented. Finally, the value and limitations of the method for the study of macromolecular interactions, not yet revealed by experimental techniques, are discussed.

Bilirubin directly disrupts membrane lipid polarity and fluidity, protein order, and redox status in rat mitochondria, Rodrigues, C. M., Sola S., Brito M. A., Brites D., and Moura J. J. , J Hepatol, Mar, Volume 36, Number 3, p.335-41, (2002) AbstractWebsite

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Unconjugated bilirubin (UCB) impairs crucial aspects of cell function and induces apoptosis in primary cultured neurones. While mechanisms of cytotoxicity begin to unfold, mitochondria appear as potential primary targets. METHODS: We used electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy analysis of isolated rat mitochondria to test the hypothesis that UCB physically interacts with mitochondria to induce structural membrane perturbation, leading to increased permeability, and subsequent release of apoptotic factors. RESULTS: Our data demonstrate profound changes on mitochondrial membrane properties during incubation with UCB, including modified membrane lipid polarity and fluidity (P<0.01), as well as disrupted protein mobility (P<0.001). Consistent with increased permeability, cytochrome c was released from the intermembrane space (P<0.01), perhaps uncoupling the respiratory chain and further increasing oxidative stress (P<0.01). Both ursodeoxycholate, a mitochondrial-membrane stabilising agent, and cyclosporine A, an inhibitor of the permeability transition, almost completely abrogated UCB-induced perturbation. CONCLUSIONS: UCB directly interacts with mitochondria influencing membrane lipid and protein properties, redox status, and cytochrome c content. Thus, apoptosis induced by UCB may be mediated, at least in part, by physical perturbation of the mitochondrial membrane. These novel findings should ultimately prove useful to our evolving understanding of UCB cytotoxicity.

Binding of protoporphyrin IX and metal derivatives to the active site of wild-type mouse ferrochelatase at low porphyrin-to-protein ratios, Lu, Y., Sousa A., Franco R., Mangravita A., Ferreira G. C., Moura I., and Shelnutt J. A. , Biochemistry, Jul 2, Volume 41, Number 26, p.8253-8262, (2002) AbstractWebsite

Resonance Raman (RR) spectroscopy is used to examine porphyrin substrate, product, and inhibitor interactions with the active site of murine ferrochelatase (EC, the terminal enzyme in the biosynthesis of heme. The enzyme catalyzes in vivo Fe2+ chelation into protoporphyrin IX to give heme. The RR spectra of native ferrochelatase show that the protein, as isolated, contains varying amounts of endogenously bound high- or low-spin ferric heme, always at much less than 1 equiv. RR data on the binding of free-base protoporphyrin IX and its metalated complexes (Fe(III), Fe(II), and Ni(II)) to active wild-type protein were obtained at varying ratios of porphyrin to protein. The binding of ferric heme, a known inhibitor of the enzyme, leads to the formation of a low-spin six-coordinate adduct. Ferrous heme, the enzyme's natural product, binds in the ferrous high-spin five-coordinate state. Ni(II) protoporphyrin, a metalloporphyrin that has a low tendency toward axial ligation, becomes distorted when bound to ferrochelatase. Similarly for free-base protoporphyrin, the natural substrate of ferrochelatase, the RR spectra of porphyrin-protein complexes reveal a saddling distortion of the porphyrin. These results corroborate and extend our previous findings that porphyrin distortion, a crucial step of the catalytic mechanism, occurs even in the absence of bound metal substrate. Moreover, RR data reveal the presence of an amino acid residue in the active site of ferrochelatase which is capable of specific axial ligation to metals.

Biochemical and spectroscopic characterization of an aldehyde oxidoreductase isolated from Desulfovibrio aminophilus, Thapper, A., Rivas M. G., Brondino C. D., Ollivier B., Fauque G., Moura I., and Moura J. J. , J Inorg Biochem, Jan, Volume 100, Number 1, p.44-50, (2006) AbstractWebsite

Aldehyde oxidoreductase (AOR) activity has been found in a number of sulfate-reducing bacteria. The enzyme that is responsible for the conversion of aldehydes to carboxylic acids is a mononuclear molybdenum enzyme belonging to the xanthine oxidase family. We report here the purification and characterization of AOR isolated from the sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio (D.) aminophilus DSM 12254, an aminolytic strain performing thiosulfate dismutation. The enzyme is a homodimer (ca. 200 kDa), containing a molybdenum centre and two [2Fe-2S] clusters per monomer. UV/Visible and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectra of D. aminophilus AOR recorded in as-prepared and reduced states are similar to those obtained in AORs from Desulfovibrio gigas, Desulfovibrio desulfuricans and Desulfovibrio alaskensis. Despite AOR from D. aminophilus is closely related to other AORs, it presents lower activity towards aldehydes and no activity towards N-heterocyclic compounds, which suggests another possible role for this enzyme in vivo. A comparison of the molecular and EPR properties of AORs from different Desulfovibrio species is also included.

Biochemical and spectroscopic characterization of overexpressed fuscoredoxin from Escherichia coli, Pereira, A. S., Tavares P., Krebs C., Huynh B. H., Rusnak F., Moura I., and Moura J. J. , Biochem Biophys Res Commun, Jun 24, Volume 260, Number 1, p.209-15, (1999) AbstractWebsite

Fuscoredoxin is a unique iron containing protein of yet unknown function originally discovered in the sulfate reducers of the genus Desulfovibrio. It contains two iron-sulfur clusters: a cubane [4Fe-4S] and a mixed oxo- and sulfido-bridged 4Fe cluster of unprecedented structure. The recent determination of the genomic sequence of Escherichia coli (E. coli) has revealed a homologue of fuscoredoxin in this facultative microbe. The presence of this gene in E. coli raises interesting questions regarding the function of fuscoredoxin and whether this gene represents a structural homologue of the better-characterized Desulfovibrio proteins. In order to explore the latter, an overexpression system for the E. coli fuscoredoxin gene was devised. The gene was cloned from genomic DNA by use of the polymerase chain reaction into the expression vector pT7-7 and overexpressed in E. coli BL21(DE3) cells. After two chromatographic steps a good yield of recombinant protein was obtained (approximately 4 mg of pure protein per liter of culture). The purified protein exhibits an optical spectrum characteristic of the homologue from D. desulfuricans, indicating that cofactor assembly was accomplished. Iron analysis indicated that the protein contains circa 8 iron atoms/molecule which were shown by EPR and Mossbauer spectroscopies to be present as two multinuclear clusters, albeit with slightly altered spectroscopic features. A comparison of the primary sequences of fuscoredoxins is presented and differences on cluster coordination modes are discussed on the light of the spectroscopic data.

Biochemical and spectroscopic characterization of the membrane-bound nitrate reductase from Marinobacter hydrocarbonoclasticus 617, Correia, C., Besson S., Brondino C. D., Gonzalez P. J., Fauque G., Lampreia J., Moura I., and Moura J. J. , J Biol Inorg Chem, Nov, Volume 13, Number 8, p.1321-33, (2008) AbstractWebsite

Membrane-bound nitrate reductase from Marinobacter hydrocarbonoclasticus 617 can be solubilized in either of two ways that will ultimately determine the presence or absence of the small (Iota) subunit. The enzyme complex (NarGHI) is composed of three subunits with molecular masses of 130, 65, and 20 kDa. This enzyme contains approximately 14 Fe, 0.8 Mo, and 1.3 molybdopterin guanine dinucleotides per enzyme molecule. Curiously, one heme b and 0.4 heme c per enzyme molecule have been detected. These hemes were potentiometrically characterized by optical spectroscopy at pH 7.6 and two noninteracting species were identified with respective midpoint potentials at Em=+197 mV (heme c) and -4.5 mV (heme b). Variable-temperature (4-120 K) X-band electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) studies performed on both as-isolated and dithionite-reduced nitrate reductase showed, respectively, an EPR signal characteristic of a [3Fe-4S]+ cluster and overlapping signals associated with at least three types of [4Fe-4S]+ centers. EPR of the as-isolated enzyme shows two distinct pH-dependent Mo(V) signals with hyperfine coupling to a solvent-exchangeable proton. These signals, called "low-pH" and "high-pH," changed to a pH-independent Mo(V) signal upon nitrate or nitrite addition. Nitrate addition to dithionite-reduced samples at pH 6 and 7.6 yields some of the EPR signals described above and a new rhombic signal that has no hyperfine structure. The relationship between the distinct EPR-active Mo(V) species and their plausible structures is discussed on the basis of the structural information available to date for closely related membrane-bound nitrate reductases.

Biochemical characterization of the purple form of Marinobacter hydrocarbonoclasticus nitrous oxide reductase, Dell'Acqua, S., Pauleta S. R., Moura J. J., and Moura I. , Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, Volume 367, Issue 1593, p.1204-1212, (2012)
Biochemical/spectroscopic characterization and preliminary X-ray analysis of a new aldehyde oxidoreductase isolated from Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ATCC 27774, Duarte, R. O., Archer M., Dias J. M., Bursakov S., Huber R., Moura I., Romao M. J., and Moura J. J. , Biochem Biophys Res Commun, Feb 24, Volume 268, Number 3, p.745-9, (2000) AbstractWebsite

Aldehyde oxidoreductase (AOR) activity has been found in different sulfate reducing organisms (Moura, J. J. G., and Barata, B. A. S. (1994) in Methods in Enzymology (Peck, H. D., Jr., and LeGall, J., Eds.), Vol. 243, Chap. 4. Academic Press; Romao, M. J., Knablein, J., Huber, R., and Moura, J. J. G. (1997) Prog. Biophys. Mol. Biol. 68, 121-144). The enzyme was purified to homogeneity from extracts of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans (Dd) ATCC 27774, a sulfate reducer that can use sulfate or nitrate as terminal respiratory substrates. The protein (AORDd) is described as a homodimer (monomer, circa 100 kDa), contains a Mo-MCD pterin, 2 x [2Fe-2S] clusters, and lacks a flavin group. Visible and EPR spectroscopies indicate a close similarity with the AOR purified from Desulfovibrio gigas (Dg) (Barata, B. A. S., LeGall, J., and Moura, J. J. G. (1993) Biochemistry 32, 11559-11568). Activity and substrate specificity for different aldehydes were determined. EPR studies were performed in native and reduced states of the enzyme and after treatment with ethylene glycol and dithiothreitol. The AORDd was crystallized using ammonium sulfate as precipitant and the crystals belong to the space group P6(1)22, with unit cell dimensions a = b = 156.4 and c = 177.1 A. These crystals diffract to beyond 2.5 A resolution and a full data set was measured on a rotating anode generator. The data were used to solve the structure by Patterson Search methods, using the model of AORDg.

Bioelectricity generation using long-term operated biocathode: RFLP based microbial diversity analysis, Ramanaiaha, S. V., Cordas C. M., Matias S. C., Reddyd M. V., Leitão J. H., and Fonseca L. P. , Biotechnology Reports, Volume 32, p.e00693, (2021)
Biosensing nitrite using the system nitrite redutase/Nafion/methyl viologen--a voltammetric study, Almeida, M. G., Silveira C. M., and Moura J. J. , Biosens Bioelectron, May 15, Volume 22, Number 11, p.2485-92, (2007) AbstractWebsite

This work describes the construction and voltammetric characterization of a nitrite biosensor based on a cytochrome c-type nitrite reductase (ccNiR) and the Nafion ionomeric matrix loaded with methyl viologen as redox mediator. Despite the potential electrostatic repulsions between the anionic substrate and the Nafion sulfonate groups, the resulting bioelectrode exhibited electrocatalytic activity toward nitrite. This phenomenon must be due to the nonuniformity of the enzyme/Nafion membrane, which allows the direct interaction between the substrate and numerous enzyme molecules. Nevertheless, the anionic nature of Nafion exerted a certain diffusion barrier to nitrite, as revealed by the unusually elevated limits of the linear dynamic range and k(m)(app). The irregularity of the composite membrane also contributed to slow down the rate of charge transfer throughout the Nafion polymer. The level of viologens incorporated within the Nafion membrane had a strong influence in the analytical parameters: as much mediator was present, lower was the sensitivity and wider was the linear range. For an optimized ratio enzyme/mediator the sensitivity was 445+/-8 mA M(-1)cm(-2), within the linear range 75-800 microM; the lowest detected nitrite concentration was 60 microM. The operational stability of the biosensor and the influence of some possible interferences were evaluated.

Biosensor for direct bioelectrocatalysis detection of nitric oxide using nitric oxide reductase incorporated in carboxylated single-walled carbon nanotubes/lipidic bilayer nanocomposite, Gomes, FO, Maia L. B., Loureiro JA, Pereira MC, Delerue-Matos C., Moura I., Moura J. J. G., and Morais S. , Bioelectrochem, Volume 127, p.76-86, (2019)
Biossensores: Modernas Ferramentas para Monitorização e Controlo Analítico, Almeida, M. G. , Bol. Biotecnol. , Volume 79, p.12-23, (2004) Abstract
A bird’s-eye view of denitrification in relation to the nitrogen cycle, Moura, I., Maia L. B., Pauleta S. R., and Moura J. J. G. , Metalloenzymes in Denitrification: Applications and Environmental Impacts, RSC Metallobiology Series No. 9 (ISBN: 978-1-78262-376-2)., Cambridge, p.1-10, (2017) n_cycle-rsc_book-denitrification-chap_1.pdf
Broad-temperature range spectroscopy of the two-centre modular redox metalloprotein Desulfovibrio desulfuricans desulfoferrodoxin, Andersen, N. H., Harnung S. E., Trabjerg I., Moura I., Moura J. J. G., and Ulstrup J. , Dalton Transactions, Sep 7, Number 17, p.3328-3338, (2003) AbstractWebsite

The electronic-vibrational couplings of the two-centre non-heme iron protein Desulfovibrio desulfuricans desulfoferrodoxin (DFx) in three oxidation states, i.e. fully oxidised (grey), half-oxidised (pink), and fully reduced (colourless), have been investigated by variable temperature (VT) UV/VIS, MCD, CD, and EPR spectroscopy. The UV/VIS spectra of grey DFx at room temperature is characterised by broad charge transfer (CT) transitions associated with oxidised centre 1 (495 and 368 nm) and II (335 and 635 nm). The transitions are resolved at 78 K, substantiated by VT-MCD and -CD. The data offer novel information about the electronic-vibrational couplings of the transitions. Multiphonon bandshape analysis discloses strong contributions from both local Fe-S and S-C stretching and solvent/protein modes. A number of transitions are blue- or red-shifted compared with monomeric desulforedoxin, superoxide reductase or dismutase, and cloned Desulfovibrio vulgaris DFx fragments. Conversion from grey to pink DFx is accompanied by drastic electronic-vibrational changes of both centres. The data suggest that electron transfer and optical CT-transitions of DFx are controlled by environmental reorganization in the whole region between the metal centres.