Proton pumping by cytochrome oxidase: Progress, problems and postulates

Dmitry Zaslavsky, Robert B. Gennis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The current status of our knowledge about the mechanism of proton pumping by cytochrome oxidase is discussed. Significant progress has resulted from the study of site-directed mutants within the proton-conducting pathways of the bacterial oxidases. There appear to be two channels to facilitate proton translocation within the enzyme and they are important at different parts of the catalytic cycle. The use of hydrogen peroxide as an alternative substrate provides a very useful experimental tool to explore the enzymology of this system, and insights gained from this approach are described. Proton transfer is coupled to and appears to regulate the rate of electron transfer steps during turnover. It is proposed that the initial step in the reaction involves a proton transfer to the active site that is important to convert metal-ligated hydroxide to water, which can more rapidly dissociate from the metals and allow the reaction with dioxygen which, we propose, can bind the one-electron reduced heme-copper center. Coordinated movement of protons and electrons over both short and long distances within the enzyme appear to be important at different parts of the catalytic cycle. During the initial reduction of dioxygen, direct hydrogen transfer to form a tyrosyl radical at the active site seems likely. Subsequent steps can be effectively blocked by mutation of a residue at the surface of the protein, apparently preventing the entry of protons. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-179
Number of pages16
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 12 2000


  • Channel
  • Cytochrome
  • Enzyme
  • Oxidase
  • Oxygen
  • Peroxidase
  • Proton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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