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Biochemistry. 2003 May 6;42(17):5074-90.

pH dependence of the reduction of dioxygen to water by cytochrome c oxidase. 2. Branched electron transfer pathways linked by proton transfer.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA.


Recent time-resolved optical absorption studies in our laboratory have indicated that the putative peroxy intermediate formed during the reduction of dioxygen to water by cytochrome oxidase (P(R)) is a pH-dependent mixture of compound A, P, and F [Van Eps, N., et al. (2003) Biochemistry 42, 5065-5073]. This conclusion is based on a kinetic analysis of flow-flash time-resolved data using a unidirectional sequential scheme with five apparent lifetimes. To account for this observation, we propose a more complex kinetic model that consists of branched pathways, one branch producing the 607 nm P form and the other the 580 nm F form. The two pathways are interconnected, and the rate of exchange between the two is pH-dependent. The kinetic analysis and testing of the new model involves a novel algebraic approach which transforms the intermediates of the complex branched scheme into intermediates comparable to those derived on the basis of a sequential model. The branched model reproduces the experimental data very well and is consistent with a variety of experimental observations. The two branches may arise from two structurally different CO or O(2) conformers or protein conformers, which could lead to different accessibilities of proton donors to the binuclear center.

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