Send to

Choose Destination
J Biol Chem. 1999 Apr 9;274(15):10119-28.

The identification of primary sites of superoxide and hydrogen peroxide formation in the aerobic respiratory chain and sulfite reductase complex of Escherichia coli.

Author information

Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.


The fitness of organisms depends upon the rate at which they generate superoxide (O-2) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as toxic by-products of aerobic metabolism. In Escherichia coli these oxidants arise primarily from the autoxidation of components of its respiratory chain. Inverted vesicles that were incubated with NADH generated O-2 and H2O2 at accelerated rates either when treated with cyanide or when devoid of quinones, implicating an NADH dehydrogenase as their source. Null mutations in the gene encoding NADH dehydrogenase II averted autoxidation of vesicles, and its overproduction accelerated it. Thus NADH dehydrogenase II but not NADH dehydrogenase I, respiratory quinones, or cytochrome oxidases formed substantial O-2 and H2O2. NADH dehydrogenase II that was purified from both wild-type and quinone-deficient cells generated approximately 130 H2O2 and 15 O-2 min-1 by autoxidation of its reduced FAD cofactor. Sulfite reductase is a second autoxidizable electron transport chain of E. coli, containing FAD, FMN, [4Fe-4S], and siroheme moieties. Purified flavoprotein that contained only the FAD and FMN cofactors had about the same oxidation turnover number as did the holoenzyme, 7 min-1 FAD-1. Oxidase activity was largely lost upon FMN removal. Thus the autoxidation of sulfite reductase, like that of the respiratory chain, occurs primarily by autoxidation of an exposed flavin cofactor. Great variability in the oxidation turnover numbers of these and other flavoproteins suggests that endogenous oxidants will be predominantly formed by only a few oxidizable enzymes. Thus the degree of oxidative stress in a cell may depend upon the titer of such enzymes and accordingly may vary with growth conditions and among different cell types. Furthermore, the chemical nature of these reactions was manifested by their acceleration at high temperatures and oxygen concentrations. Thus these environmental parameters may also directly affect the O-2 and H2O2 loads that organisms must bear.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center