Wolfgang Lubitz

Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, Mülheim-on-Ruhr, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

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Publications (492)2264.72 Total impact

  • No preview · Article · Apr 2016 · ACS Catalysis
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rapid progress has been made in the last five years towards resolution of the structure of nature's water splitting catalyst - a Mn4O5Ca cofactor embedded in Photosystem II - especially in the field of X-ray crystallography. In addition, recent magnetic resonance data have allowed the structure of the cofactor to be accessed in its last metastable intermediate state, prior to O-O bond formation. This activated form of the catalyst is geometrically similar to that seen by X-ray crystallography, which represents the resting state of the cofactor, but requires the coordination of an additional water molecule to the cofactor, rendering all Mn ions six coordinate. Importantly, it locates two water derived, Mn bound oxygen ligands in close proximity. It is these two oxygen ligands that likely form the product O2 molecule, as proposed earlier by quantum chemical modeling. Current views on the molecular level events that facilitate catalyst activation, that is, catalyst/substrate deprotonation, Mn oxidation and water molecule insertion are briefly described.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2016 · Current opinion in chemical biology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A manganese/iron cofactor which performs multi-electron oxidative chemistry is found in two classes of ferritin-like proteins, the small subunit (R2) of class Ic ribonucleotide reductase (R2c) and the R2-like ligand-binding oxidase (R2lox). It is unclear how a heterodimeric Mn/Fe metallocofactor is assembled in these two related proteins as opposed to a homodimeric Fe/Fe cofactor, especially considering the structural similarity and proximity of the two metal-binding sites in both protein scaffolds and the similar first coordination sphere ligand preferences of Mn(II) and Fe(II). Using EPR and Mössbauer spectroscopies as well as X-ray anomalous dispersion, we examined metal loading and cofactor activation of both proteins in vitro (in solution). We find divergent cofactor assembly mechanisms for the two systems. In both cases, excess Mn(II) promotes heterobimetallic cofactor assembly. In the absence of Fe(II), R2c cooperatively binds Mn(II) at both metal sites, whereas R2lox does not readily bind Mn(II) at either site. Heterometallic cofactor assembly is favored at substoichiometric Fe(II) concentrations in R2lox. Fe(II) and Mn(II) likely bind to the protein in a stepwise fashion, with Fe(II) binding to site 2 initiating cofactor assembly. In R2c, however, heterometallic assembly is presumably achieved by the displacement of Mn(II) by Fe(II) at site 2. The divergent metal loading mechanisms are correlated with the putative in vivo functions of R2c and R2lox, and most likely with the intracellular Mn(II)/Fe(II) concentrations in the host organisms from which they were isolated.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2016 · Journal of inorganic biochemistry
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The heme synthase AhbD catalyzes the oxidative decarboxylation of two propionate side chains of iron-coproporphyrin III to the corresponding vinyl groups of heme during the alternative heme biosynthesis pathway occurring in sulfate reducing bacteria and archaea. AhbD belongs to the family of Radical SAM enzymes and contains two [4Fe-4S] clusters. Whereas one of these clusters is required for substrate radical formation, the role of the second iron-sulfur cluster is not known. In this study, the function of the auxiliary cluster during AhbD catalysis was investigated. Two single cluster variants of AhbD from M. barkeri carrying either one of the two clusters were created. Using these enzyme variants it was shown that the auxiliary cluster is not required for substrate binding and formation of the substrate radical. Instead, the auxiliary cluster is involved in a late step of AhbD catalysis most likely in electron transfer from the reaction intermediate to a final electron acceptor. Moreover, by using alternative substrates such as coproporphyrin III, Cu-coproporphyrin III and Zn-coproporphyrin III for the AhbD activity assay it was observed that the central iron ion of the porphyrin substrate also participates in the electron transfer from the reaction intermediate to the auxiliary [4Fe-4S] cluster. Altogether, new insights concerning the completely uncharacterized late steps of AhbD catalysis were obtained.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2016 · Chemical Science
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Metal hydrides are invoked as important intermediates in both chemical and biological H2 production. In the [NiFe] hydrogenase enzymes, pulsed EPR and high-resolution crystallography have argued that the hydride interacts primarily at the Ni site. In contrast, in [NiFe] hydrogenase model complexes, it is observed that the bridging hydride interacts primarily with the Fe. Herein, we utilize a combination of Ni and Fe X-ray absorption (XAS) and emission (XES) spectroscopies to examine the contribution of the bridging hydride to the observed spectral features in [(dppe)Ni(µ-pdt)(µ-H)Fe(CO)3]+. The corresponding data on (dppe)Ni(µ-pdt)Fe(CO)3 are used as a reference for the changes that occur in the absence of a hydride bridge. For further interpretation of the observed spectral features, all experimental spectra were calculated using a density functional theory (DFT) approach, with excellent agreement between theory and experiment. It is found that the iron valence-to-core (VtC) XES spectra reveal clear signatures for the presence of a Fe-H interaction in the hydride bridged model complex. In contrast, the Ni VtC XES spectrum largely reflects changes in the local Ni geometry and shows little contribution from a Ni-H interaction. A stepwise theoretical analysis of the hydride contribution and the Ni site symmetry provides insights into the factors, which govern the different metal-hydride interactions in both the model complexes and the enzyme. Furthermore, these results establish the utility of two-color XES to reveal important insights into the electronic structure of various metal-hydride species.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bis(p-methoxyphenyl)carbene is the first carbene that at cryogenic temperatures can be isolated in both its lowest energy singlet and triplet states. At 3 K both states coexist indefinitely under these conditions. The carbene is investigated in argon matrices by IR, UV-vis, and X-band EPR spectroscopy, and in MTHF glasses by W-band EPR and Q-band ENDOR spectroscopy. UV (365 nm) irradiation of the system results in formation of predominantly the triplet carbene, whereas visible (450 nm) light shifts the photostationary equilibrium towards the singlet state. Upon annealing at higher temperatures (> 10 K), the triplet is converted to the singlet, however, cooling back to 3 K does not restore the triplet. Therefore, depending on matrix temperature and irradiation conditions, matrices containing predominantly the triplet or the singlet carbene can be generated. Controlling the magnetic and chemical properties of carbenes by using light of different wavelengths might be of general interest for applications such as information storage and radical-initiated polymerization processes.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Journal of the American Chemical Society
  • Chunmao He · Hideaki Ogata · Wolfgang Lubitz
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Chemical Science
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy exploits an intrinsic property of matter, namely the electron spin and its related magnetic moment. This can be oriented in a magnetic field and thus, in the classical limit, acts like a little bar magnet. Its moment will align either parallel or antiparallel to the field, giving rise to different energies (termed Zeeman splitting). Transitions between these two quantized states can be driven by incident microwave frequency radiation, analogous to NMR experiments, where radiofrequency radiation is used. However, the electron Zeeman interaction alone provides only limited information. Instead, much of the usefulness of EPR is derived from the fact that the electron spin also interacts with its local magnetic environment and thus can be used to probe structure via detection of nearby spins, e.g., NMR-active magnetic nuclei and/or other electron spin(s). The latter is exploited in spin labeling techniques, an exciting new area in the development of noncrystallographic protein structure determination. Although these interactions are often smaller than the linewidth of the EPR experiment, sophisticated pulse EPR methods allow their detection. A number of such techniques are well established today and can be broadly described as double-resonance methods, in which the electron spin is used as a reporter. Below we give a brief description of pulse EPR methods, particularly their implementation at higher magnetic fields, and how to best exploit them for studying metallobiomolecules.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In transition-metal complexes, the geometric structure is intimately connected with the spin state arising from magnetic coupling between the paramagnetic ions. The tetramanganese-calcium cofactor that catalyzes biological water oxidation in photosystem II cycles through five catalytic intermediates, each of which adopts a specific geometric and electronic structure and is thus characterized by a specific spin state. Here, we review spin-structure correlations in Nature's water-splitting catalyst. The catalytic cycle of the Mn4O5Ca cofactor can be described in terms of spin-dependent reactivity. The lower "inactive" S states of the catalyst, S0 and S1, are characterized by low-spin ground states, SGS = (1)/2 and SGS = 0. This is connected to the "open cubane" topology of the inorganic core in these states. The S2 state exhibits structural and spin heterogeneity in the form of two interconvertible isomers and is identified as the spin-switching point of the catalytic cycle. The first S2 state form is an open cubane structure with a low-spin SGS = (1)/2 ground state, whereas the other represents the first appearance of a closed cubane topology in the catalytic cycle that is associated with a higher-spin ground state of SGS = (5)/2. It is only this higher-spin form of the S2 state that progresses to the "activated" S3 state of the catalyst. The structure of this final metastable catalytic state was resolved in a recent report, showing that all manganese ions are six-coordinate. The magnetic coupling is dominantly ferromagnetic, leading to a high-spin ground state of SGS = 3. The ability of the Mn4O5Ca cofactor to adopt two distinct structural and spin-state forms in the S2 state is critical for water binding in the S3 state, allowing spin-state crossing from the inactive, low-spin configuration of the catalyst to the activated, high-spin configuration. Here we describe how an understanding of the magnetic properties of the catalyst in all S states has allowed conclusions on the catalyst function to be reached. A summary of recent literature results is provided that constrains the sequence of molecular level events: catalyst/substrate deprotonation, manganese oxidation, and water molecule insertion.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Inorganic Chemistry
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Membrane type 1-matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP or MMP-14) is a zinc-transmembrane metalloprotease involved in the degradation of extracellular matrix and tumor invasion. While changes in solvation of MT1-MMP have been recently studied, little is known about the structural and energetic changes associated with MT1-MMP while interacting with substrates. Steady-state kinetic and thermodynamic data (including activation energies and activation volumes) were measured over a wide range of temperatures and pressures by means of a stopped-flow fluorescence technique. Complementary temperature- and pressure-dependent Fourier-transform infrared measurements provided corresponding structural information of the protein. MT1-MMP is stable and active over a wide range of temperatures (10–55°C). A small conformational change was detected at 37°C, which is responsible for the change in activity observed at the same temperature. Pressure decreases the enzymatic activity until complete inactivation occurs at 2 kbar. The inactivation is associated with changes in the rate-limiting step of the reaction caused by additional hydration of the active site upon compression and/or minor conformational changes in the active site region. Based on these data, an energy and volume diagram could be established for the various steps of the enzymatic reaction.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Biophysical Journal
  • No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Biophysical Journal
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Direct spectroscopic evidence for a hydride bridge in the Ni–R form of [NiFe] hydrogenase has been obtained using iron-specific nuclear resonance vibrational spectroscopy (NRVS). The Ni–H–Fe wag mode at 675 cm −1 is the first spectroscopic evidence for a bridging hydride in Ni–R as well as the first iron-hydride-related NRVS feature observed for a biological system. Although density function theory (DFT) calculation assisted the determination of the Ni–R structure, it did not predict the Ni–H–Fe wag mode at ∼675 cm −1 before NRVS. Instead, the observed Ni–H–Fe mode provided a critical reference for the DFT calculations. While the overall science about Ni–R is presented and discussed elsewhere, this article focuses on the long and strenuous experimental journey to search for and experimentally identify the Ni–H–Fe wag mode in a Ni–R sample. As a methodology, the results presented here will go beyond Ni–R and hydrogenase research and will also be of interest to other scientists who use synchrotron radiation for measuring dilute samples or weak spectroscopic features.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Synchrotron Radiation
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A new class of synthetic models for the active site of [NiFe]-hydrogenases are described. The Ni(I/II)(SCys)2 and Fe(II)(CN)2CO sites are represented with (RC5H4)Ni(I/II) and Fe(II)(diphos)(CO) modules, where diphos = 1,2-C2H4(PPh2)2(dppe) or cis-1,2-C2H2(PPh2)2(dppv). The two bridging thiolate ligands are represented by CH2(CH2S)2(2-) (pdt(2-)), Me2C(CH2S)2(2-) (Me2pdt(2-)), and (C6H5S)2(2-). The reaction of Fe(pdt)(CO)2(dppe) and [(C5H5)3Ni2]BF4 affords [(C5H5)Ni(pdt)Fe(dppe)(CO)]BF4 ([1a]BF4). Monocarbonyl [1a]BF4 features an S = 0 Ni(II)Fe(II) center with five-coordinated iron, as proposed for the Ni-SIa state of the enzyme. One-electron reduction of [1a](+) affords the S = (1)/2 derivative [1a](0), which, according to density functional theory (DFT) calculations and electron paramagnetic resonance and Mössbauer spectroscopies, is best described as a Ni(I)Fe(II) compound. The Ni(I)Fe(II) assignment matches that for the Ni-L state in [NiFe]-hydrogenase, unlike recently reported Ni(II)Fe(I)-based models. Compound [1a](0) reacts with strong acids to liberate 0.5 equiv of H2 and regenerate [1a](+), indicating that H2 evolution is catalyzed by [1a](0). DFT calculations were used to investigate the pathway for H2 evolution and revealed that the mechanism can proceed through two isomers of [1a](0) that differ in the stereochemistry of the Fe(dppe)CO center. Calculations suggest that protonation of [1a](0) (both isomers) affords Ni(III)-H-Fe(II) intermediates, which represent mimics of the Ni-C state of the enzyme.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Inorganic Chemistry
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The active site of [FeFe] hydrogenase contains a catalytic binuclear iron sub-site coordinated by CN(-) and CO ligands as well as a unique azadithiolate (adt(2-)) bridging ligand. It has been established that this binuclear cofactor is synthesized and assembled by three maturation proteins HydE,F,G. Using in vitro maturation in the presence of (15)N and (13)C labeled tyrosine it has been shown that the CN(-) and CO ligands originate from tyrosine. The source of the bridging adt(2-) ligand, however, remains as yet unknown. In order to identify the nitrogen of the bridging amine using HYSCORE spectroscopy and distinguish its spectroscopic signature from that of the CN(-) nitrogens we studied three isotope labeled variants of the H-cluster ((15)N-adt(2-)/C(14)N(-), (15)N-adt(2-)/C(15)N(-), and (14)N-adt(2-)/C(15)N(-)) and extracted accurate values of the hyperfine and quadrupole couplings of both CN(-) and adt(2-) nitrogens. This will allow to evaluate isotopologues of the H-cluster generated by in vitro bioassembly in the presence of various (15)N labeled potential precursors as possible sources of the bridging ligand.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Journal of the American Chemical Society
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The metabolism of many anaerobes relies on [NiFe]-hydrogenases, whose characterization when bound to substrates has proven non-trivial. Presented here is direct evidence for a hydride bridge in the active site of the 57 Fe-labelled fully reduced Ni-R form of Desulfovibrio vulgaris Miyazaki F [NiFe]-hydrogenase. A unique ' wagging' mode involving H- motion perpendicular to the Ni(μ1/4-H)57 Fe plane was studied using 57 Fe-specific nuclear resonance vibrational spectroscopy and density functional theory (DFT) calculations. On Ni(μ1/4-D) 57 Fe deuteride substitution, this wagging causes a characteristic perturbation of Fe-CO/CN bands. Spectra have been interpreted by comparison with Ni(μ1/4-H/D) 57 Fe enzyme mimics [(dppe)Ni(μ1/4-pdt)(μ1/4-H/D) 57 Fe(CO)3 ]+ and DFT calculations, which collectively indicate a low-spin Ni(II)(μ1/4-H)Fe(II) core for Ni-R, with H- binding Ni more tightly than Fe. The present methodology is also relevant to characterizing Fe-H moieties in other important natural and synthetic catalysts.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Nature Communications
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    Full-text · Dataset · Jul 2015
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Das aktive Zentrum von Hydrogenasen inspiriert die Entwicklung molekularer Katalysatoren zur Wasserstoffumsetzung. Ein direkter Vergleich zwischen diesen Katalysatoren und dem Enzym war jedoch bisher nicht möglich, weil verschiedene Techniken zur Bewertung der Katalysatoreigenschaften verwendet wurden. Dies macht es schwierig zu beurteilen, inwieweit die synthetisierten Katalysatoren in ihrer Leistung an das Enzym heranreichen. Hier vergleichen wir die katalytischen Eigenschaften von Ni[(PCy2NGly2)2]+2 mit denen der [NiFe]-Hydrogenase aus Desulfovibrio vulgaris. Beide wurden auf funktionalisierten Elektroden unter identischen Bedingungen immobilisiert. Das Enzym zeigt bei pH 7 eine höhere Aktivität, geringere Überspannung und eine bessere Stabilität, während bei niedrigem pH-Wert der molekulare Katalysator das Enzym in jeder Hinsicht übertrifft. Dieser erste direkte Vergleich gibt Auskunft über die Vor- und Nachteile der beiden Systeme und Hinweise auf eine mögliche Verwendung bioinspirierter Komplexe in Brennstoffzellen.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Angewandte Chemie
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The active site of hydrogenases has been a source of inspiration for the development of molecular catalysts. However, direct comparisons between molecular catalysts and enzymes have not been possible because different techniques are used to evaluate both types of catalysts, minimizing our ability to determine how far we have come in mimicking the enzymatic performance. The catalytic properties of the [Ni(P(Cy) 2 N(Gly) 2 )2 ](2+) complex with the [NiFe]-hydrogenase from Desulfovibrio vulgaris immobilized on a functionalized electrode were compared under identical conditions. At pH 7, the enzyme shows higher activity and lower overpotential with better stability, while at low pH, the molecular catalyst outperforms the enzyme in all respects. This is the first direct comparison of enzymes and molecular complexes, enabling a unique understanding of the benefits and detriments of both systems, and advancing our understanding of the utilization of these bio-inspired complexes in fuel cells. © 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Angewandte Chemie International Edition
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diamagnetic iron chloro compounds [(P(Ph)2N(Ph)2)FeCp*Cl] [1Cl] and [(P(Cy)2N(Ph)2)FeCp*Cl] [2Cl] and the corresponding hydrido complexes [(P(Ph2)N(Ph2))FeCp*H] [1H] and [(P(Cy)2N(Ph)2)FeCp*H] [2H] have been synthesized and characterized by NMR spectroscopy, electrochemical studies, electronic absorption, and (57)Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy (P(Ph)2N(Ph)2 = 1,3,5,7-tetraphenyl-1,5-diphospha-3,7-diazacyclooctane, P(Cy2)N(Ph2) = 1,5-dicyclohexyl-3,7-diphenyl-1,5-diphospha-3,7-diazacyclooctane, Cp* = pentamethylcyclopentadienyl). Molecular structures of [2Cl], [1H], and [2H], derived from single-crystal X-ray diffraction, revealed that these compounds have a typical piano-stool geometry. The results show that the electronic properties of the hydrido complexes are strongly influenced by the substituents at the phosphorus donor atoms of the P(R)2N(Ph)2 ligand, whereas those of the chloro complexes are less affected. These results illustrate that the hydride is a strong-field ligand, as compared to chloride, and thus leads to a significant degree of covalent character of the iron hydride bonds. This is important in the context of possible catalytic intermediates of iron hydrido species, as proposed for the catalytic cycle of [FeFe] hydrogenases and other synthetic catalysts. Both hydrido compounds [1H] and [2H] show enhanced catalytic currents in cyclic voltammetry upon addition of the strong acid trifluoromethanesulfonimide [NHTf2] (pKa(MeCN) = 1.0). In contrast to the related complex [(P(tBu)N(Bn))2FeCp(C6F5)H], which was reported by Liu et al. (Nat. Chem. 2013, 5, 228-233) to be an electrocatalyst for hydrogen splitting, the here presented hydride complexes [1H] and [2H] show the tendency for electrocatalytic hydrogen production. Hence, the catalytic direction of this class of monoiron compounds can be reversed by specific ligand modifications.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Inorganic Chemistry
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    Full-text · Dataset · Jun 2015

Publication Stats

13k Citations
2,264.72 Total Impact Points


  • 2004-2015
    • Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion
      Mülheim-on-Ruhr, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
    • Universidad Nacional del Litoral
      Ciudad de Santa Fe, Santa Fe, Argentina
  • 2003-2015
    • Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
      Mayence, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
  • 2007
    • Ruhr-Universität Bochum
      Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 1975-2007
    • Freie Universität Berlin
      • Institute of Experimental Physics
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany
  • 1991-2005
    • Technische Universität Berlin
      • Department of Chemistry
      Berlín, Berlin, Germany
  • 2001
    • VU University Amsterdam
      • Division of Theoretical Chemistry
      Amsterdamo, North Holland, Netherlands
  • 1996
    • Arizona State University
      • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
      Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 1995
    • University of California, San Diego
      • Department of Physics
      San Diego, California, United States
  • 1983
    • Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
      • Institut für Anorganische und Analytische Chemie
      Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany
  • 1980
    • University of Jyväskylä
      • Department of Chemistry
      Jyväskylä, Western Finland, Finland