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Sci Rep. 2015 Aug 27;5:12047. doi: 10.1038/srep12047.

Structural Changes and Proton Transfer in Cytochrome c Oxidase.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, The Arrhenius Laboratories for Natural Sciences, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.


In cytochrome c oxidase electron transfer from cytochrome c to O2 is linked to transmembrane proton pumping, which contributes to maintaining a proton electrochemical gradient across the membrane. The mechanism by which cytochrome c oxidase couples the exergonic electron transfer to the endergonic proton translocation is not known, but it presumably involves local structural changes that control the alternating proton access to the two sides of the membrane. Such redox-induced structural changes have been observed in X-ray crystallographic studies at residues 423-425 (in the R. sphaeroides oxidase), located near heme a. The aim of the present study is to investigate the functional effects of these structural changes on reaction steps associated with proton pumping. Residue Ser425 was modified using site-directed mutagenesis and time-resolved spectroscopy was used to investigate coupled electron-proton transfer upon reaction of the oxidase with O2. The data indicate that the structural change at position 425 propagates to the D proton pathway, which suggests a link between redox changes at heme a and modulation of intramolecular proton-transfer rates.

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