Report

Antibody Catalysis of the Oxidation of Water

Science  07 Sep 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5536, pp. 1806-1811
DOI: 10.1126/science.1062722

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Abstract

Recently we reported that antibodies can generate hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) from singlet molecular oxygen (1O2*). We now show that this process is catalytic, and we identify the electron source for a quasi-unlimited generation of H2O2. Antibodies produce up to 500 mole equivalents of H2O2 from1O2*, without a reduction in rate, and we have excluded metals or Cl as the electron source. On the basis of isotope incorporation experiments and kinetic data, we propose that antibodies use H2O as an electron source, facilitating its addition to 1O2* to form H2O3 as the first intermediate in a reaction cascade that eventually leads to H2O2. X-ray crystallographic studies with xenon point to putative conserved oxygen binding sites within the antibody fold where this chemistry could be initiated. Our findings suggest a protective function of immunoglobulins against 1O2* and raise the question of whether the need to detoxify 1O2* has played a decisive role in the evolution of the immunoglobulin fold.

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