The zfx gene encoding a zinc-containing ferredoxin from Thermoplasma acidophilum strain HO-62 was cloned and sequenced. It is located upstream of two genes encoding an archaeal homolog of nascent polypeptide-associated complex α subunit and a tRNA nucleotidyltransferase. This gene organization is not conserved in several euryarchaeoteal genomes. The multiple sequence alignments of the zfx gene product suggest significant sequence similarity of the ferredoxin core fold to that of a low potential 8Fe-containing dicluster ferredoxin without a zinc center. The tightly bound zinc site of zinc- containing ferredoxins from two phylogenetically distantly related Archaea, T. acidophilum HO-62 and Sulfolobus sp. strain 7, was further investigated by x-ray absorption spectroscopy. The zinc K-edge x-ray absorption spectra of both archaeal ferredoxins are strikingly similar, demonstrating that the same zinc site is found in T. acidophilum ferredoxin as in Sulfolobus sp. ferredoxin, which suggests the structural conservation of isolated zinc binding sites among archaeal zinc-containing ferredoxins. The sequence and spectroscopic data provide the common structural features of the archaeal zinc-containing ferredoxin family.
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