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Biotin synthase from Escherichia coli was analyzed by nanoflow electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. From solution conditions in which the protein is in its native state, a distribution of monomeric, dimeric, and tetrameric species was observed. The distribution of these species was sensitive to changes in ionic strength: in the positive ion spectrum, biotin synthase at low ionic strength (pH 7.0-8.5) yielded less than 10% dimer. The masses of the monomeric species were consistent with the presence of a [2Fe-2S] cluster with a mass difference of 175.3 Da from the apomonomer with one disulfide bond. Despite the molecular mass of the noncovalent dimer (77 kDa), it was possible to observe a dimeric species containing one iron-sulfur cluster in both positive and negative ion spectra. Additionally, observation of a series of charge states assigned to the apodimer indicated that binding of the iron-sulfur cluster was not required to maintain the dimer. Binding of Cu2+ to biotin synthase was also observed; in the presence of excess chelating agent, free metals were removed and the iron-sulfur cluster remained intact. Evidence for the coordination of the iron-sulfur cluster in biotin synthase was obtained in a tandem mass spectrometry experiment. A single charge state containing the cluster at m/z 2416.9 was isolated, and collision-induced dissociation resulted in sequential loss of sulfur and retention of Fe3+.


Journal article


Anal Chem

Publication Date





4154 - 4161


Buffers, Escherichia coli, Iron, Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization, Sulfur, Sulfurtransferases