A tale of two methane monooxygenases

  • Matthew O. Ross
  • Amy C. RosenzweigEmail author
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. 60 Years of Oxygen Activation


Methane monooxygenase (MMO) enzymes activate O2 for oxidation of methane. Two distinct MMOs exist in nature, a soluble form that uses a diiron active site (sMMO) and a membrane-bound form with a catalytic copper center (pMMO). Understanding the reaction mechanisms of these enzymes is of fundamental importance to biologists and chemists, and is also relevant to the development of new biocatalysts. The sMMO catalytic cycle has been elucidated in detail, including O2 activation intermediates and the nature of the methane-oxidizing species. By contrast, many aspects of pMMO catalysis remain unclear, most notably the nuclearity and molecular details of the copper active site. Here, we review the current state of knowledge for both enzymes, and consider pMMO O2 activation intermediates suggested by computational and synthetic studies in the context of existing biochemical data. Further work is needed on all fronts, with the ultimate goal of understanding how these two remarkable enzymes catalyze a reaction not readily achieved by any other metalloenzyme or biomimetic compound.


Methanotroph Methane monooxygenase Dioxygen activation Diiron Copper 



Ammonia monooxygenase


Bacterial multicomponent monooxygenase


Dopamine β-hydroxylase


Electron paramagnetic resonance


Extended X-ray absorption fine structure


Hydrocarbon monooxygenase


Methanol dehydrogenase


Methane monooxygenase


sMMO regulatory protein


sMMO hydroxylase


MMOH with a diiron(III) site


MMOH with a diiron(II) site


sMMO reductase


Type 2 NADH:quinone oxidoreductase


Peptidylglycine α-hydroxylating monooxygenase


Particulate MMO


Soluble MMO



Work in the Rosenzweig laboratory on biological methane oxidation is supported by National Institutes of Health Grant GM118035 (A. C. R.). M. O. R. was supported in part by National Institutes of Health Grant 5T32GM008382.


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© SBIC 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Molecular Biosciences and of ChemistryNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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