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Nitrogenase catalyzes the reduction of N2 to NH₄+ at its cofactor site. Designated the M-cluster, this [MoFe₇S₉C(R-homocitrate)] cofactor is synthesized via transformation of a [Fe₄S₄] cluster pair into an [Fe₈S₉C] precursor (designated the L-cluster) prior to insertion of Mo and homocitrate. Here we report the characterization of an eight-iron cofactor precursor (designated the L*-cluster), which is proposed to have a composition of [Fe₈S₈C] and lack the "9th sulfur" in the belt region of the L-cluster. Our X-ray absorption and electron spin echo envelope modulation analyses strongly suggest that the L*-cluster represents a structural homolog to the L-cluster except for the missing belt sulfur. The absence of a belt sulfur from the L*-cluster may prove beneficial for labeling the catalytically important belt region, which could in turn facilitate investigations into the reaction mechanism of nitrogenase.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)
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