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J Biol Chem. 1986 Jun 25;261(18):8081-4.

Two-electron reduced mercuric reductase binds Hg(II) to the active site dithiol but does not catalyze Hg(II) reduction.


Mercuric reductase contains FAD and a redox-active disulfide which is reduced to a thiol/thiolate pair in two-electron reduced enzyme (EH2) (Fox, B. and Walsh, C.T. (1982) J. Biol. Chem. 257, 2498-2503). A charge transfer interaction between the thiolate and oxidized FAD gives EH2 a characteristic absorption spectrum, very similar to that found with other flavoprotein disulfide oxidoreductases. We have examined the reaction of EH2 with HgCl2 (+/- mercaptoethanol) in stopped-flow kinetic and static titration experiments. In the absence of mercaptoethanol, reaction of EH2 with HgCl2 yields a final spectrum which is indistinguishable from that of oxidized enzyme. The nature of the final species was examined by titration of enzyme thiols with 5,5'-dithiobis-2,2'-nitrobenzoic acid under denaturing conditions in the presence of NaI to displace any Hg(II) bound to enzyme thiols. These studies demonstrate that EH2 tightly complexes Hg(II) with its active site thiols, but is incapable of reducing Hg(II) to Hg0. For the latter reaction to occur, additional reducing equivalents are required. In catalysis, the enzyme must first be reduced to EH2 after which it cycles between EH2 and EH2 X NADPH forms. This is in contrast to other flavoprotein disulfide oxidoreductases which cycle between Eox and EH2 forms in catalysis (Williams, C. H., Jr. (1976) in The Enzymes (Boyer, P. D., ed) 3rd Ed., Vol. 13, pp. 89-173, Academic Press, New York). With mercuric reductase, exogenous thiols are required for catalytic reduction of Hg(II) to Hg0. We have shown that this is due to prevention or reversal of formation of an abortive complex of Hg(II) with the thiol/thiolate pair of EH2.

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