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A four-helix bundle stores copper for methane oxidation

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nicolas Vita, Semeli Platsaki, Dr Arnaud Basle, Stephen Allen, Dr Kevin WaldronORCiD, Professor Christopher Dennison


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Methane-oxidizing bacteria (methanotrophs) require large quantities of copper for the membrane-bound (particulate) methane monooxygenase(1,2). Certain methanotrophs are also able to switch to using the iron-containing soluble methane monooxygenase to catalyse methane oxidation, with this switchover regulated by copper(3,4). Methane monooxygenases are nature's primary biological mechanism for suppressing atmospheric levels of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Furthermore, methanotrophs and methane monooxygenases 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(5,6). Here we discover and characterize a novel copper storage protein (Csp1) from the methanotroph Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b that is exported from the cytosol, and stores copper for particulate methane monooxygenase. Csp1 is a tetramer of four-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 realized. Cytosolic homologues of Csp1 are present in diverse bacteria, thus challenging the dogma that such organisms do not use copper in this location.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vita N, Platsaki S, Basle A, Allen SJ, Paterson NG, Crombie AT, Murrell JC, Waldron KJ, Dennison C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature

Year: 2015

Volume: 525

Issue: 7567

Pages: 140-143

Print publication date: 03/09/2015

Online publication date: 26/08/2015

Acceptance date: 23/06/2015

ISSN (print): 0028-0836

ISSN (electronic): 1476-4687

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/nature14854


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Funder referenceFunder name
Newcastle University
Sir Henry Dale Fellowship - Wellcome Trust
098375/Z/12/ZRoyal Society
BB/K008439/1Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council