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HYDROGENASE BACTERIAL ENZYME ACTIVATING MOLECULAR HYDROGEN ( hydrogenase-bacterial-enzyme-activating-molecular-hydrogen )

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XXVII. HYDROGENASE: A BACTERIAL ENZYME ACTIVATING MOLECULAR HYDROGEN. I. THE PROPERTIES OF THE ENZYME. BY MARJORY STEPHENSON AND LEONARD HUBERT STICKLAND1. From the Biochemical Laboratory, Cambridge. (ReceivedDecember13th,1930.) BIoCHEMISTs are now accustomed to regard the transfer of hydrogen as an essential step in biological oxidations; such a view involves the conception of some enzymic mechanism for rendering active or unstable the molecule from whichthehydrogenistransferred. No suchenzymeactingonmolecular hydrogen has so far been described, though several inorganic catalysts are knownwhichfunctioninthisway. Itisneverthelessalmostcertainthatsuch an enzyme exists, as organisms producing molecular hydrogen presumably have such a catalyst; moreover bacteria have long been known which are capableofoxidisinghydrogengasbymolecularoxygenandlivingautotrophic- ally on the energy thus liberated. The earliestexample of such an organism wasB.pantotrophus(Hydrogenomonaspantotropha)isolatedbyKaserer[1906]. Laterotherworkersisolatedavarietyofspecieshavingthesamecharacteristic [Niklewski, 1914; Grohmann, 1924]. It was subsequently discovered that in certainofthesespeciesnitratecanreplaceoxygen,sothatananaerobicauto- trophicdevelopmentoccurs[Niklewski,1914]. Inalthesecasestheorganisms are facultatively autotrophic, the oxidation of hydrogen playing an essential partintheirmetabolism. A suggestionthattheseearlyobservationscome intolinewithrecentwork on the dehydrogenases of bacteria is contained in the recent work of Tausz and Donath [1930], who showed that a culture of Bact. aliphaticum lique- faciens grown autotrophically on hydrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide is capableofreducingmethylenebluewhenastreamofhydrogenisledthrough theapparatus,butnotwhennitrogenreplacesthehydrogen. Experimental. During the study of anaerobic fermentations of fatty acids to methane by mixed cultures from river mud, a culture was obtained which (a) reduced sulphatetosulphide,and(b)decomposedformatequantitativelytomethane, carbon dioxide and water. The same culture was also found to synthesise 1 Goldsmiths' Senior Student and Benn W. Levy Student.



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