The cytochrome bd respiratory oxygen reductases

Vitaliy B. Borisov, Robert B. Gennis, James Hemp, Michael I. Verkhovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cytochrome bd is a respiratory quinol:O2 oxidoreductase found in many prokaryotes, including a number of pathogens. The main bioenergetic function of the enzyme is the production of a proton motive force by the vectorial charge transfer of protons. The sequences of cytochromes bd are not homologous to those of the other respiratory oxygen reductases, i.e., the heme-copper oxygen reductases or alternative oxidases (AOX). Generally, cytochromes bd are noteworthy for their high affinity for O2 and resistance to inhibition by cyanide. In E. coli, for example, cytochrome bd (specifically, cytochrome bd-I) is expressed under O2-limited conditions. Among the members of the bd-family are the so-called cyanide-insensitive quinol oxidases (CIO) which often have a low content of the eponymous heme d but, instead, have heme b in place of heme d in at least a majority of the enzyme population. However, at this point, no sequence motif has been identified to distinguish cytochrome bd (with a stoichiometric complement of heme d) from an enzyme designated as CIO. Members of the bd-family can be subdivided into those which contain either a long or a short hydrophilic connection between transmembrane helices 6 and 7 in subunit I, designated as the Q-loop. However, it is not clear whether there is a functional consequence of this difference. This review summarizes current knowledge on the physiological functions, genetics, structural and catalytic properties of cytochromes bd. Included in this review are descriptions of the intermediates of the catalytic cycle, the proposed site for the reduction of O2, evidence for a proton channel connecting this active site to the bacterial cytoplasm, and the molecular mechanism by which a membrane potential is generated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1398-1413
Number of pages16
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Bacterial physiology
  • Disease
  • Metabolism
  • Microbe
  • Molecular bioenergetics
  • Oxidoreduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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