Bacteria that produce Mn oxides are extraordinarily skilled engineers of nanomaterials that contribute significantly to global biogeochemical cycles. Their enzyme-based reaction mechanisms may be genetically tailored for environmental remediation applications or bioenergy production. However, significant challenges exist for structural characterization of the enzymes responsible for biomineralization. The active Mn oxidase in Bacillus sp. PL-12, Mnx, is a complex composed of a multicopper oxidase (MCO), MnxG, and two accessory proteins, MnxE and MnxF. MnxG shares sequence similarity with other, structurally characterized MCOs. MnxE and MnxF have no similarity to any characterized proteins. The ~200 kDa complex has been recalcitrant to crystallization, so its structure is unknown. Here, we show that native mass spectrometry defines the subunit topology and copper binding of Mnx, while high-resolution electron microscopy visualizes the protein and nascent Mn oxide minerals. These data provide critical structural information for understanding Mn biomineralization by such unexplored enzymes.
Significant challenges exist for structural characterization of enzymes responsible for biomineralization. Here the authors show that native mass spectrometry and high resolution electron microscopy can define the subunit topology and copper binding of a manganese oxidizing complex, and describe early stage formation of its mineral products