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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Apr;1817(4):629-37. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2011.09.020. Epub 2011 Oct 6.

The superfamily of heme-copper oxygen reductases: types and evolutionary considerations.

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Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Av. da República, Oeiras, Portugal.


Heme-copper oxygen reductases (HCO) reduce O(2) to water being the last enzymatic complexes of most aerobic respiratory chains. These enzymes promote energy conservation coupling the catalytic reaction to charge separation and charge translocation across the prokaryotic cytoplasmatic or mitochondrial membrane. In this way they contribute to the establishment and maintenance of the transmembrane difference of electrochemical potential, which is vital for solute/nutrient cell import, synthesis of ATP and motility. The HCO enzymes most probably share with the nitric oxide reductases, NORs, a common ancestor. We have proposed the classification of HCOs into three different types, A, B and C; based on the constituents of their proton channels (Pereira, Santana and Teixeira (2001) Biochim Biophys Acta, 1505, 185-208). This classification was recently challenged by the suggestion of other different types of HCOs. Using an enlarged sampling we performed an exhaustive bioinformatic reanalysis of HCOs family. Our results strengthened our previously proposed classification and showed no need for the existence of more divisions. Now, we analyze the taxonomic distribution of HCOs and NORs and the congruence of their sequence trees with the 16S rRNA tree. We observed that HCOs are widely distributed in the two prokaryotic domains and that the different types of enzymes are not confined to a specific taxonomic group or environmental niche.

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