Physiology, biochemistry, and applications of F420- and Fo-dependent redox reactions

Chris Greening*, F. Hafna Ahmed, A. Elaaf Mohamed, Brendon M. Lee, Gunjan Pandey, Andrew C. Warden, Colin Scott, John G. Oakeshott, Matthew C. Taylor, Colin J. Jackson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Citations (Scopus)


5-Deazaflavin cofactors enhance the metabolic flexibility of microorganisms by catalyzing a wide range of challenging enzymatic redox reactions. While structurally similar to riboflavin, 5-deazaflavins have distinctive and biologically useful electrochemical and photochemical properties as a result of the substitution of N-5 of the isoalloxazine ring for a carbon. 8-Hydroxy-5-deazaflavin (Fo) appears to be used for a single function: as a light-harvesting chromophore for DNA photolyases across the three domains of life. In contrast, its oligoglutamyl derivative F420 is a taxonomically restricted but functionally versatile cofactor that facilitates many low-potential two-electron redox reactions. It serves as an essential catabolic cofactor in methanogenic, sulfate-reducing, and likely methanotrophic archaea. It also transforms a wide range of exogenous substrates and endogenous metabolites in aerobic actinobacteria, for example mycobacteria and streptomycetes. In this review, we discuss the physiological roles of F420 in microorganisms and the biochemistry of the various oxidoreductases that mediate these roles. Particular focus is placed on the central roles of F420 in methanogenic archaea in processes such as substrate oxidation, C1 pathways, respiration, and oxygen detoxification. We also describe how two F420-dependent oxidoreductase superfamilies mediate many environmentally and medically important reactions in bacteria, including biosynthesis of tetracycline and pyrrolobenzodiazepine antibiotics by streptomycetes, activation of the prodrugs pretomanid and delamanid by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and degradation of environmental contaminants such as picrate, aflatoxin, and malachite green. The biosynthesis pathways of Fo and F420 are also detailed. We conclude by considering opportunities to exploit deazaflavin-dependent processes in tuberculosis treatment, methane mitigation, bioremediation, and industrial biocatalysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-493
Number of pages43
JournalMicrobiology and Molecular Biology Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Physiology, biochemistry, and applications of F420- and Fo-dependent redox reactions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this