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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Jun;1787(6):626-34. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2009.02.020. Epub 2009 Mar 4.

Electron transfer and energy transduction in the terminal part of the respiratory chain - lessons from bacterial model systems.

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Institute of Biochemistry, Molecular Genetics, Biozentrum Goethe University, Max-von-Laue-Str. 9, D 60438 Frankfurt, Germany.


This review focuses on the terminal part of the respiratory chain where, macroscopically speaking, electron transfer (ET) switches from the two-electron donor, ubiquinol, to the single-electron carrier, cytochrome c, to finally reduce the four-electron acceptor dioxygen. With 3-D structures of prominent representatives of such multi-subunit membrane complexes known for some time, this section of the ET chain still leaves a number of key questions unanswered. The two relevant enzymes, ubiquinol:cytochrome c oxidoreductase and cytochrome c oxidase, appear as rather diverse modules, differing largely in their design for substrate interaction, internal ET, and moreover, in their mechanisms of energy transduction. While the canonical mitochondrial complexes have been investigated for almost five decades, the corresponding bacterial enzymes have been established only recently as attractive model systems to address basic reactions in ET and energy transduction. Lacking the intricate coding background and mitochondrial assembly pathways, bacterial respiratory enzymes typically offer a much simpler subunit composition, while maintaining all fundamental functions established for their complex "relatives". Moreover, related issues ranging from primary steps in cofactor insertion to supramolecular architecture of ET complexes, can also be favourably addressed in prokaryotic systems to hone our views on prototypic structures and mechanisms common to all family members.

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