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J Inorg Biochem. 2016 Sep;162:309-318. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2016.04.015. Epub 2016 Apr 15.

Effects of mutations in active site heme ligands on the spectroscopic and catalytic properties of SoxAX cytochromes.

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School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.
Centre for Advanced Imaging, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.
School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia. Electronic address:


By attaching a sulfur substrate to a conserved cysteine of the SoxYZ carrier protein SoxAX cytochromes initiate the reaction cycle of the Sox (sulfur oxidation) multienzyme complex, which is the major pathway for microbial reoxidation of sulfur compounds in the environment. Despite their important role in this process, the reaction mechanism of the SoxAX cytochromes has not been fully elucidated. Here we report the effects of several active site mutations on the spectroscopic and enzymatic properties of the type II SoxAX protein from Starkeya novella, which in addition to two heme groups also contains a Cu redox centre. All substituted proteins contained these redox centres except for His231Ala which was unable to bind Cu(II). Substitution of the SoxA active site heme cysteine ligand with histidine resulted in increased microheterogeneity around the SoxA heme as determined by CW-EPR, while a SnSoxAXC236A substituted protein revealed a completely new, nitrogenous SoxA heme ligand. The same novel ligand was present in SnSoxAXH231A CW-EPR spectra, the first time that a ligand switch of the SoxA heme involving a nearby amino acid has been demonstrated. Kinetically, SnSoxAXC236A and SnSoxAXC236H showed reduced turnover, and in assays containing SoxYZ these mutants retained only ~25% of the wildtype activity. Together, these data indicate that the Cu redox centre can mediate a low level of activity, and that a possible ligand switch can occur during catalysis. It also appears that the SoxA heme cysteine ligand (and possibly the low redox potential) is important for an efficient reaction with SnSoxYZ/thiosulfate.


Cytochromes; EPR; Heme thiolate proteins; Redox properties; SoxAX; Thiosulfate oxidation

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