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An Electronic Bus Bar Lies in the Core of Cytochrome bc1

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Science  23 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5990, pp. 451-454
DOI: 10.1126/science.1190899

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Heme Communication Revealed by Asymmetry

An electronic bus bar is an electrical conductor that connects several circuits. Świerczek et al. (p. 451) now find that a similar strategy is used by the protein cytochrome bc1 that plays a central role in cellular respiration and photosynthesis. Protein engineering was used to break the symmetry of a cytochrome bc1 homodimer, which revealed that the dimer is bridged by electron transfer between two hemes. This allows electrons to move freely within and between dimers to distribute between four catalytic sites.