Blocking the K-pathway still allows rapid one-electron reduction of the binuclear center during the anaerobic reduction of the aa3-type cytochrome c oxidase from Rhodobacter sphaeroides

Krithika Ganesan, Robert B. Gennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The K-pathway is one of the two proton-input channels required for function of cytochrome c oxidase. In the Rhodobacter sphaeroides cytochrome c oxidase, the K-channel starts at Glu101 in subunit II, which is at the surface of the protein exposed to the cytoplasm, and runs to Tyr288 at the heme a3/CuB active site. Mutations of conserved, polar residues within the K-channel block or inhibit steady state oxidase activity. A large body of research has demonstrated that the K-channel is required to fully reduce the heme/Cu binuclear center, prior to the reaction with O2, presumably by providing protons to stabilize the reduced metals (ferrous heme a3 and cuprous CuB). However, there are conflicting reports which raise questions about whether blocking the K-channel blocks both electrons or only one electron from reaching the heme/Cu center. In the current work, the rate and extent of the anaerobic reduction of the heme/Cu center were monitored by optical and EPR spectroscopies, comparing the wild type and mutants that block the K-channel. The new data show that when the K-channel is blocked, one electron will still readily enter the binuclear center. The one-electron reduction of the resting oxidized ("O") heme/Cu center of the K362M mutant, results in a partially reduced binuclear center in which the electron is distributed about evenly between heme a3 and CuB in the R. sphaeroides oxidase. Complete reduction of the heme/Cu center requires the uptake of two protons which must be delivered through the K-channel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-624
Number of pages6
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number6-7
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010



  • Cytochrome oxidase
  • K-pathway
  • Protons
  • R. sphaeroides
  • Respiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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