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Hydrogen/hydride Ion Relay – A Mechanism for Early Electron Transfer in Cytochrome c Oxidases

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Cytochrome c oxidase (COX) employs electrons obtained from cytochrome c to bring about the reduction of oxygen to water. It is known that the electrons originate from the haem edge of cytochrome c and enters bovine COX at Trp-104. It is also known that Tyr-105, Glu-198 and Asp-158 of COX subunit II play roles in the enzyme’s catalysis but how these roles are linked to electron transfer remain unclear. Recently, we proposed that electrons travel from the haem edge of cytochrome c to CuA, the first metal redox centre of COX, by a hydrogen/hydride ion relay using six residues. Now using a similar computer assisted approach, we investigate the extent to which this hydride/hydrogen ion mechanism is common amongst oxidases. The crystal structures of COX from P denitrificans, R sphaeroides and T thermophilus and quinol oxidase from E coli were downloaded and their binding domains analysed. As with bovine, all four oxidases had only nine amino acid residues in that region and both the sequences and three-dimensional structures were highly conserved. We propose that these residues function as a hydrogen/hydride ion relay, participating directly in electron transfer to CuA. We further suggest that this electron transfer mechanism might be a common feature in oxidases.


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e-Published: 09 Apr, 2013
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