The role of hydrogen atoms in redox catalysis by the flavoenzyme cholesterol oxidase

Tatiana Kerber, Alice Vrielink

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Flavoenzymes comprise a large class of proteins that carry out a diverse range of important redox chemistry. Although X-ray crystal structures of many flavoenzymes have been determined, there are still unresolved questions regarding the actual oxidation state of the flavin cofactors in these structures due to photoreduction by the ionizing radiation of the X-ray beam during the diffraction experiment. Additionally, the ability to visualize hydrogen atoms in X-ray structures is difficult due to the weak scattering capability of these atoms. Since hydrogen atoms affect the electrostatic nature of enzyme active sites and play important roles in the chemistry of key amino acid residues, visualizing the precise positions of these atoms provides a more detailed understanding of their role in enzyme catalysis. Single crystal neutron diffraction is an alternative method to structure determination, circumventing problems associated with photoreduction of the sample thus providing a clearer view of the structural features of a flavoenzyme in different redox states. Additionally, the larger neutron scattering factors for hydrogen and deuterium atoms enables one to visualize these atoms much more easily than from X-ray scattering measurements. In this chapter we give an overview of neutron and X-ray crystallography studies on the flavoenzyme, cholesterol oxidase and how the observations of unusual hydrogen atom positions provide insight into the redox chemistry of the flavin cofactor.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in Enzymology
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameMethods in Enzymology
ISSN (Print)0076-6879
ISSN (Electronic)1557-7988


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