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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Mar 14;134(10):4753-61. doi: 10.1021/ja210535w. Epub 2012 Mar 6.

Two tyrosyl radicals stabilize high oxidation states in cytochrome C oxidase for efficient energy conservation and proton translocation.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, New York 10461, United States.


The reaction of oxidized bovine cytochrome c oxidase (bCcO) with hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) was studied by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) to determine the properties of radical intermediates. Two distinct radicals with widths of 12 and 46 G are directly observed by X-band EPR in the reaction of bCcO with H(2)O(2) at pH 6 and pH 8. High-frequency EPR (D-band) provides assignments to tyrosine for both radicals based on well-resolved g-tensors. The wide radical (46 G) exhibits g-values similar to a radical generated on L-Tyr by UV-irradiation and to tyrosyl radicals identified in many other enzyme systems. In contrast, the g-values of the narrow radical (12 G) deviate from L-Tyr in a trend akin to the radicals on tyrosines with substitutions at the ortho position. X-band EPR demonstrates that the two tyrosyl radicals differ in the orientation of their β-methylene protons. The 12 G wide radical has minimal hyperfine structure and can be fit using parameters unique to the post-translationally modified Y244 in bCcO. The 46 G wide radical has extensive hyperfine structure and can be fit with parameters consistent with Y129. The results are supported by mixed quantum mechanics and molecular mechanics calculations. In addition to providing spectroscopic evidence of a radical formed on the post-translationally modified tyrosine in CcO, this study resolves the much debated controversy of whether the wide radical seen at low pH in the bovine enzyme is a tyrosine or tryptophan. The possible role of radical formation and migration in proton translocation is discussed.

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