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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jan 31;278(5):3055-62. Epub 2002 Nov 20.

Involvement of tyrosines 114 and 139 of subunit NuoB in the proton pathway around cluster N2 in Escherichia coli NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase.

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  • 1Institut für Org. Chemie und Biochemie, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Albertstrasse 21, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.


The proton-pumping NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase (complex I) couples the transfer of electrons from NADH to ubiquinone with the translocation of protons across the membrane. Electron transfer is accomplished by FMN and a series of iron-sulfur clusters. Its coupling with proton translocation is not yet understood. Here, we report that the redox reaction of the FeS cluster N2 located on subunit NuoB of the Escherichia coli complex I induces a protonation/deprotonation of tyrosine side chains. Electrochemically induced FT-IR difference spectra revealed characteristic tyrosine signals at 1,515 and 1,498 cm(-1) for the protonated and deprotonated form, respectively. Mutants of three conserved tyrosines on NuoB were generated by complementing a chromosomal in-frame deletion strain with nuoB on a plasmid. Though the single mutations did not alter the electron transport activity of complex I, the EPR signal of cluster N2 was slightly shifted. The tyrosine signals detected by FT-IR spectroscopy were roughly halved in the mutants Y114C and Y139C while only minor changes were detected in the Y154H mutant. The enzymatic activity of the Y114C/Y139F double mutant was 80% reduced, and FT-IR difference spectra of the double mutant revealed a complete loss the modes characteristic for protonation reactions of tyrosines. Therefore, we propose that tyrosines 114 and 139 on NuoB were protonated upon reduction of cluster N2 and were thus involved in the proton-transfer reaction coupled with its redox reaction.

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