Direct evidence for a tyrosine radical in the reaction of cytochrome c oxidase with hydrogen peroxide

Fraser MacMillan, Aimo Kannt, Julia Behr, Thomas Prisner, Hartmut Michel

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Cytochrome c oxidase (COX) catalyzes the reduction of oxygen to water, a process which is accompanied by the pumping of four protons across the membrane. Elucidation of the structures of intermediates in these processes is crucial for understanding the mechanism of oxygen reduction. In the work presented here, the reaction of HO with the fully oxidized protein at pH 6.0 has been investigated with electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. The results reveal an EPR signal with partially resolved hyperfine structure typical of an organic radical. The yield of this radical based on comparison with other paramagnetic centers in COX was ∼20%. Recent crystallographic data have shown that one of the CU ligands, His 276 (in the bacterial case), is cross-linked to Tyr 280 and that this cross-linked tyrosine is ideally positioned to participate in dioxygen activation. Here selectively deuterated tyrosine has been incorporated into the protein, and a drastic change in the line shape of the EPR signal observed above has been detected. This would suggest that the observed EPR signal does indeed arise from a tyrosine radical species. It would seem also quite possible that this radical is an intermediate in the mechanism of oxygen reduction.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 1999

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