A four-helix bundle stores copper for methane oxidation

Nicholas Vita, Semeli Platsaki, Arnaud Baslé, Stephen J. Allen, Neil G. Paterson, Andrew T. Crombie, J. Colin Murrell, Kevin J. Waldron , Christopher Dennison

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Methane-oxidising bacteria (methanotrophs) require large quantities of copper for the membrane-bound (particulate) methane monooxygenase (pMMO). Certain methanotrophs are also able to switch to using the iron-containing soluble MMO (sMMO) to catalyse methane oxidation, with this switchover regulated by copper. MMOs are Nature’s primary biological mechanism for suppressing atmospheric levels of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Furthermore, methanotrophs and MMOs have enormous potential in bioremediation and for biotransformations producing bulk and fine chemicals, and in bioenergy, particularly considering increased methane availability from renewable sources and hydraulic fracturing of shale rock. We have discovered and characterised a novel copper storage protein (Csp1) from the methanotroph Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b that is exported from the cytosol, and stores copper for pMMO. Csp1 is a tetramer of 4-helix bundles with each monomer binding up to 13 Cu(I) ions in a previously unseen manner via mainly Cys residues that point into the core of the bundle. Csp1 is the first example of a protein that stores a metal within an established protein-folding motif. This work provides a detailed insight into how methanotrophs accumulate copper for the oxidation of methane. Understanding this process is essential if the wide-ranging biotechnological applications of methanotrophs are to be realised. Cytosolic homologues of Csp1 are present in diverse bacteria thus challenging the dogma that such organisms do not use copper in this location.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140–143
Number of pages4
Early online date26 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2015

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