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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 31;9(1):e87618. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087618. eCollection 2014.

Structural and functional insights into the catalytic inactivity of the major fraction of buffalo milk xanthine oxidoreductase.

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Animal Biotechnology Centre, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana, India.
Animal Biotechnology Centre, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana, India ; BTIS Subcentre, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana, India.



Xanthine oxidoreductase (XOR) existing in two interconvertible forms, xanthine dehydrogenase (XDH) and xanthine oxidase (XO), catabolises xanthine to uric acid that is further broken down to antioxidative agent allantoin. XOR also produces free radicals serving as second messenger and microbicidal agent. Large variation in the XO activity has been observed among various species. Both hypo and hyper activity of XOR leads to pathophysiological conditions. Given the important nutritional role of buffalo milk in human health especially in south Asia, it is crucial to understand the functional properties of buffalo XOR and the underlying structural basis of variations in comparison to other species.


Buffalo XO activity of 0.75 U/mg was almost half of cattle XO activity. Enzymatic efficiency (k cat/K m) of 0.11 sec(-1) µM(-1) of buffalo XO was 8-10 times smaller than that of cattle XO. Buffalo XOR also showed lower antibacterial activity than cattle XOR. A CD value (Δε430 nm) of 46,000 M(-1) cm(-1) suggested occupancy of 77.4% at Fe/S I centre. Buffalo XOR contained 0.31 molybdenum atom/subunit of which 48% existed in active sulfo form. The active form of XO in buffalo was only 16% in comparison to ∼30% in cattle. Sequencing revealed 97.4% similarity between buffalo and cattle XOR. FAD domain was least conserved, while metal binding domains (Fe/S and Molybdenum) were highly conserved. Homology modelling of buffalo XOR showed several variations occurring in clusters, especially close to FAD binding pocket which could affect NAD(+) entry in the FAD centre. The difference in XO activity seems to be originating from cofactor deficiency, especially molybdenum.


A major fraction of buffalo milk XOR exists in a catalytically inactive form due to high content of demolybdo and desulfo forms. Lower Fe/S content and structural factors might be contributing to lower enzymatic efficiency of buffalo XOR in a minor way.

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