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J Biol Chem. 2010 Jul 23;285(30):22774-83. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.124305. Epub 2010 May 24.

The Qrc membrane complex, related to the alternative complex III, is a menaquinone reductase involved in sulfate respiration.

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Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Oeiras 2780-157, Portugal.


Biological sulfate reduction is a process with high environmental significance due to its major contribution to the carbon and sulfur cycles in anaerobic environments. However, the respiratory chain of sulfate-reducing bacteria is still poorly understood. Here we describe a new respiratory complex that was isolated as a major protein present in the membranes of Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough. The complex, which was named Qrc, is the first representative of a new family of redox complexes. It has three subunits related to the complex iron-sulfur molybdoenzyme family and a multiheme cytochrome c and binds six hemes c, one [3Fe-4S](+1/0) cluster, and several interacting [4Fe-4S](2+/1+) clusters but no molybdenum. Qrc is related to the alternative complex III, and we show that it has the reverse catalytic activity, acting as a Type I cytochrome c(3):menaquinone oxidoreductase. The qrc genes are found in the genomes of deltaproteobacterial sulfate reducers, which have periplasmic hydrogenases and formate dehydrogenases that lack a membrane subunit for reduction of the quinone pool. In these organisms, Qrc acts as a menaquinone reductase with electrons from periplasmic hydrogen or formate oxidation. Binding of a menaquinone analogue affects the EPR spectrum of the [3Fe-4S](+1/0) cluster, indicating the presence of a quinone-binding site close to the periplasmic subunits. Qrc is the first respiratory complex from sulfate reducers to have its physiological function clearly elucidated.

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