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Neutron scattering maps the higher-order assembly of NADPH-dependent assimilatory sulfite reductase...

by Kevin L Weiss, Christopher B Stanley, Gergely Nagy
Publication Type
Journal Name
Biophysical Journal
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1799 to 1812

Precursor molecules for biomass incorporation must be imported into cells and made available to the molecular machines that build the cell. Sulfur-containing macromolecules require that sulfur be in its S2− oxidation state before assimilation into amino acids, cofactors, and vitamins that are essential to organisms throughout the biosphere. In α-proteobacteria, NADPH-dependent assimilatory sulfite reductase (SiR) performs the final six-electron reduction of sulfur. SiR is a dodecameric oxidoreductase composed of an octameric flavoprotein reductase (SiRFP) and four hemoprotein metalloenzyme oxidases (SiRHPs). SiR performs the electron transfer reduction reaction to produce sulfide from sulfite through coordinated domain movements and subunit interactions without release of partially reduced intermediates. Efforts to understand the electron transfer mechanism responsible for SiR’s efficiency are confounded by structural heterogeneity arising from intrinsically disordered regions throughout its complex, including the flexible linker joining SiRFP’s flavin-binding domains. As a result, high-resolution structures of SiR dodecamer and its subcomplexes are unknown, leaving a gap in the fundamental understanding of how SiR performs this uniquely large-volume electron transfer reaction. Here, we use deuterium labeling, in vitro reconstitution, analytical ultracentrifugation (AUC), small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), and neutron contrast variation (NCV) to observe the relative subunit positions within SiR’s higher-order assembly. AUC and SANS reveal SiR to be a flexible dodecamer and confirm the mismatched SiRFP and SiRHP subunit stoichiometry. NCV shows that the complex is asymmetric, with SiRHP on the periphery of the complex and the centers of mass between SiRFP and SiRHP components over 100 Å apart. SiRFP undergoes compaction upon assembly into SiR’s dodecamer and SiRHP adopts multiple positions in the complex. The resulting map of SiR’s higher-order structure supports a cis/trans mechanism for electron transfer between domains of reductase subunits as well as between tightly bound or transiently interacting reductase and oxidase subunits.