Research Articles

Structures of metal sites of oxidized bovine heart cytochrome c oxidase at 2.8 A

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Science  25 Aug 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5227, pp. 1069-1074
DOI: 10.1126/science.7652554


The high resolution three-dimensional x-ray structure of the metal sites of bovine heart cytochrome c oxidase is reported. Cytochrome c oxidase is the largest membrane protein yet crystallized and analyzed at atomic resolution. Electron density distribution of the oxidized bovine cytochrome c oxidase at 2.8 A resolution indicates a dinuclear copper center with an unexpected structure similar to a [2Fe-2S]-type iron-sulfur center. Previously predicted zinc and magnesium sites have been located, the former bound by a nuclear encoded subunit on the matrix side of the membrane, and the latter situated between heme a3 and CuA, at the interface of subunits I and II. The O2 binding site contains heme a3 iron and copper atoms (CuB) with an interatomic distance of 4.5 A; there is no detectable bridging ligand between iron and copper atoms in spite of a strong antiferromagnetic coupling between them. A hydrogen bond is present between a hydroxyl group of the hydroxyfarnesylethyl side chain of heme a3 and an OH of a tyrosine. The tyrosine phenol plane is immediately adjacent and perpendicular to an imidazole group bonded to CuB, suggesting a possible role in intramolecular electron transfer or conformational control, the latter of which could induce the redox-coupled proton pumping. A phenyl group located halfway between a pyrrole plane of the heme a3 and an imidazole plane liganded to the other heme (heme a) could also influence electron transfer or conformational control.

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