Methyl-coenzyme M reductase (MCR) catalyzes the final step in methane biosynthesis by methanogenic archaea and contains a redox-active nickel tetrahydrocorphin, coenzyme F430, at its active site. Spectroscopic and computational methods have been used to study a novel form of the coenzyme, called F330, which is obtained by reducing F430 with sodium borohydride (NaBH4). F330 exhibits a prominent absorption peak at 330 nm, which is blue shifted by 100 nm relative to F 430. Mass spectrometric studies demonstrate that the tetrapyrrole ring in F330 has undergone reduction, on the basis of the incorporation of protium (or deuterium), upon treatment of F430 with NaBH4 (or NaBD4). One- and two-dimensional NMR studies show that the site of reduction is the exocyclic ketone group of the tetrahydrocorphin. Resonance Raman studies indicate that elimination of this π-bond increases the overall π-bond order in the conjugative framework. X-ray absorption, magnetic circular dichroism, and computational results show that F330 contains low-spin Ni(II). Thus, conversion of F 430 to F330 reduces the hydrocorphin ring but not the metal. Conversely, reduction of F430 with Ti(III) citrate to generate F380 (corresponding to the active MCRred1 state) reduces the Ni(II) to Ni(I) but does not reduce the tetrapyrrole ring system, which is consistent with other studies [Piskorski, R., and Jaun, B. (2003) J. Am. Chem. Soc. 125, 13120-13125; Craft, J. L., et al. (2004) J. Biol. Inorg. Chem. 9, 77-89]. The distinct origins of the absorption band shifts associated with the formation of F330 and F380 are discussed within the framework of our computational results. These studies on the nature of the product(s) of reduction of F430 are of interest in the context of the mechanism of methane formation by MCR and in relation to the chemistry of hydroporphinoid systems in general. The spectroscopic and time-dependent DFT calculations add important insight into the electronic structure of the nickel hydrocorphinate in its Ni(II) and Ni(I) valence states.
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