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J Bacteriol. 2001 Jan;183(2):687-99.

Gene cluster of Rhodothermus marinus high-potential iron-sulfur Protein: oxygen oxidoreductase, a caa(3)-type oxidase belonging to the superfamily of heme-copper oxidases.

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Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2780-156 Oeiras, Portugal.


The respiratory chain of the thermohalophilic bacterium Rhodothermus marinus contains an oxygen reductase, which uses HiPIP (high potential iron-sulfur protein) as an electron donor. The structural genes encoding the four subunits of this HiPIP:oxygen oxidoreductase were cloned and sequenced. The genes for subunits II, I, III, and IV (named rcoxA to rcoxD) are found in this order and seemed to be organized in an operon of at least five genes with a terminator structure a few nucleotides downstream of rcoxD. Examination of the amino acid sequence of the Rcox subunits shows that the subunits of the R. marinus enzyme have homology to the corresponding subunits of oxidases belonging to the superfamily of heme-copper oxidases. RcoxB has the conserved histidines involved in binding the binuclear center and the low-spin heme. All of the residues proposed to be involved in proton transfer channels are conserved, with the exception of the key glutamate residue of the D-channel (E(278), Paracoccus denitrificans numbering). Analysis of the homology-derived structural model of subunit I shows that the phenol group of a tyrosine (Y) residue and the hydroxyl group of the following serine (S) may functionally substitute the glutamate carboxyl in proton transfer. RcoxA has an additional sequence for heme C binding, after the Cu(A) domain, that is characteristic of caa(3) oxidases belonging to the superfamily. Homology modeling of the structure of this cytochrome domain of subunit II shows no marked electrostatic character, especially around the heme edge region, suggesting that the interaction with a redox partner is not of an electrostatic nature. This observation is analyzed in relation to the electron donor for this caa(3) oxidase, the HiPIP. In conclusion, it is shown that an oxidase, which uses an iron-sulfur protein as an electron donor, is structurally related to the caa(3) class of heme-copper cytochrome c oxidases. The data are discussed in the framework of the evolution of oxidases within the superfamily of heme-copper oxidases.

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