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J Biol Chem. 1977 Mar 25;252(6):2017-25.

Tryptic cleavage of rat liver sulfite oxidase. Isolation and characterization of molybdenum and heme domains.


Treatment of rat liver sulfite oxidase with trypsin leads to loss of ability to oxidize sulfite in the presence of cytochrome c as electron acceptor. Ability to oxidize sulfite with ferricyanide as acceptor is undiminished, while sulfite leads to O2 activity is partially retained. Gel filtration of the proteolytic products has led to the isolation of two major fragments of dissimilar size derived from sulfite oxidase. The smaller fragment has a molecular weight of 9500 and appears to be monomeric when detached from sulfite oxidase. It contains the heme in its cytochrome b5 structure, has no sulfite oxidase activity, and is reducible with dithionite but not with sulfite. The heme fragment can mediate electron transfer between pig liver microsomal NADH cytochrome b5 reductase and cytochrome c. The larger fragment has a molecular weight of 47,400 under denaturing conditions but elutes from Sephadex G-200 as a dimer. It contains no heme but retains all of the molybdenum and the modified sulfite-oxidizing capacity present in the proteolytic mixture. All of the EPR properties of the molybdenum center of native sulfite oxidase are retained in the molybdenum fragment. The molybdenum center is a weak chromophore with an absorption sectrum suggestive of coordination with sulfur ligands. Reduction by sulfite generates a spectrum attributable to molybdenum (V). Spectra of oxidized and sulfite-reduced preparations are sensitive to anions and pH. NH2-terminal analysis of native sulfite oxidase and the two tryptic fragments has permitted the conclusion that the sequence represented by the heme fragment is the NH2 terminus of native enzyme. These studies have demonstrated that the two cofactor moieties of sulfite oxidase are contained in distinct domains which are covalently held in contiguity by means of an exposed hinge region. Isolation of functional heme and molybdenum domains of sulfite oxidase after tryptic cleavage has demonstrated conclusively that the cytochrome b5 region of the molecule is required for electron transfer to the physiological acceptor, cytochrome c.

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