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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Apr;1817(4):526-36. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2011.09.004. Epub 2011 Sep 16.

Proton-pumping mechanism of cytochrome c oxidase: a kinetic master-equation approach.

Author information

1
Center for Computational Materials Science, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375, USA. youngchan.kim@nrl.navy.mil

Abstract

Cytochrome c oxidase is an efficient energy transducer that reduces oxygen to water and converts the released chemical energy into an electrochemical membrane potential. As a true proton pump, cytochrome c oxidase translocates protons across the membrane against this potential. Based on a wealth of experiments and calculations, an increasingly detailed picture of the reaction intermediates in the redox cycle has emerged. However, the fundamental mechanism of proton pumping coupled to redox chemistry remains largely unresolved. Here we examine and extend a kinetic master-equation approach to gain insight into redox-coupled proton pumping in cytochrome c oxidase. Basic principles of the cytochrome c oxidase proton pump emerge from an analysis of the simplest kinetic models that retain essential elements of the experimentally determined structure, energetics, and kinetics, and that satisfy fundamental physical principles. The master-equation models allow us to address the question of how pumping can be achieved in a system in which all reaction steps are reversible. Whereas proton pumping does not require the direct modulation of microscopic reaction barriers, such kinetic gating greatly increases the pumping efficiency. Further efficiency gains can be achieved by partially decoupling the proton uptake pathway from the active-site region. Such a mechanism is consistent with the proposed Glu valve, in which the side chain of a key glutamic acid shuttles between the D channel and the active-site region. We also show that the models predict only small proton leaks even in the absence of turnover. The design principles identified here for cytochrome c oxidase provide a blueprint for novel biology-inspired fuel cells, and the master-equation formulation should prove useful also for other molecular machines. .

PMID:
21946020
PMCID:
PMC3249012
DOI:
10.1016/j.bbabio.2011.09.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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