Mn(II,III) oxidation and mno2 mineralization by an expressed bacterial multicopper oxidase

Cristina N. Butterfield, Alexandra V. Soldatova, Sung Woo Lee, Thomas G. Spiro, Bradley M. Tebo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Reactive Mn(IV) oxide minerals are ubiquitous in the environment and control the bioavailability and distribution of many toxic and essential elements and organic compounds. Their formation is thought to be dependent on microbial enzymes, because spontaneous Mn(II) to Mn(IV) oxidation is slow. Several species of marine Bacillus spores oxidize Mn(II) on their exosporium, the outermost layer of the spore, encrusting them with Mn(IV) oxides. Molecular studies have identified the mnx (Mn oxidation) genes, including mnxG, encoding a putative multicopper oxidase (MCO), as responsible for this two-electron oxidation, a surprising finding because MCOs only catalyze single-electron transfer reactions. Characterization of the enzymatic mechanism has been hindered by the lack of purified protein. By purifying active protein from the mnxDEFG expression construct, we found that the resulting enzyme is a blue (absorption maximum 590 nm) complex containing MnxE, MnxF, andMnxG proteins. Further, by analyzing the Mn(II)- and (III)-oxidizing activity in the presence of a Mn(III) chelator, pyrophosphate, we found that the complex facilitates both electron transfers from Mn (II) to Mn(III) and from Mn(III) to Mn(IV). X-ray absorption spectroscopy of the Mn mineral product confirmed its similarity to Mn(IV) oxides generated by whole spores. Our results demonstrate that Mn oxidation from soluble Mn(II) to Mn(IV) oxides is a two-step reaction catalyzed by an MCO-containing complex. With the purification of active Mn oxidase, we will be able to uncover its mechanism, broadening our understanding of Mn mineral formation and the bioinorganic capabilities of MCOs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11731-11735
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 16 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Biogeochemistry
  • Biomineralization
  • Metal cycling
  • Microbial redox

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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