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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Apr 12;1655(1-3):372-80.

Tryptophan or tyrosine? On the nature of the amino acid radical formed following hydrogen peroxide treatment of cytochrome c oxidase.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ, UK.


It has been reported that different amino acid radicals are formed following the addition of hydrogen peroxide to cytochrome c oxidase (CcO) from bovine heart or from Paracoccus denitrificans. A broad unresolved signal in the electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectra of bovine CcO has been assigned to a tryptophan radical, probably Trp126 [Rigby et al. Biochemistry 2000, 39, 5921-5928]. In the P. denitrificans enzyme, a similarly broad signal but with a well-resolved hyperfine structure was shown to originate from a tyrosyl radical and was tentatively assigned to the active site Tyr280 [MacMillan et al. Biochemistry 1999, 38, 9179-9184]. We confirm that the EPR signal from P. denitrificans CcO can be simulated using spectral parameters typical for known Tyr radicals in other systems. However, the rotational conformation of the phenolic ring of Tyr280 is inconsistent with our simulation. Instead, the simulation parameters we used correspond to the rotational conformation of ring that matches very accurately the conformation found in Tyr167, a residue that is close enough ( approximately 10 A) to the binuclear centre to readily donate an electron. The broad unresolved EPR signal in the bovine oxidase has been thought previously to be inconsistent with a tyrosyl radical. However, we have simulated a hypothetical EPR spectrum arising from a Tyr129 radical (the equivalent of Tyr167 in P. denitrificans CcO) and showed that it is similar to the observed broad signal. The possibility exists, therefore, that the homological tyrosine amino acid (Tyr167/Tyr129) is responsible for the EPR spectrum in both the Paraccoccus and the bovine enzyme. This correspondence between the two enzymes at least allows the possibility that this radical may have functional importance.

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