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A Bio-computing Analysis of the Resting-to-pulsed Conformational Changes in Cytochrome c Oxidase



Cytochrome c oxidase (Cox) accepts electrons from its substrate, cytochrome c and passes these to oxygen, which is reduced to water. Kinetic studies show that an active form of the enzyme (pulsed) and a slower form (resting) exists. More efficient internal electron transfer and the switching of the enzyme’s oxygen/ligand binding site between opened and closed positions are said to account for the different rates of reduction. We employed bio-computing to analyse the structure of the oxygen/ligand binding site of bovine Cox under different redox states; a comparison with Thermus thermophilus Cox was also conducted. The study detected that the ligand binding site of Cox is exposed to the contents of the intermembrane space, and that the side chain of haem a3, located at the enzyme’s oxygen/ligand binding site, approached Pro-69 and Ile-34 in faraway subunit-II. However, no open-to-closed gating structures were detected at the ligand binding site. We concluded that the resting-to-pulse transition in Cox does not involve opening-up of the ligand binding site. We propose that the rates of ligand/oxygen/cyanide binding are partly controlled by “queuing” near the binding site and that the binding of oxygen to haem a3-CuB triggers the resting-to-pulsed transition via long-range conformational changes.

March 26, 2015
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