Structural model of the redox centres in cytochrome oxidase

Liisa Holm, Matti Saraste, Mårten Wikström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

182 Citations (Scopus)


Evolutionary conservation, predicted membrane topography of the subunits, and known chemical and physical properties of the catalytic metals in cytochrome oxidase provided the basis for plausible structural models of the enzyme's redox centres. Subunit II probably binds one of the copper ions (CuA) whilst subunit I is likely to bind the two haems (a and a3) and the other redox‐active copper (CuB). Two cysteine and two histidine residues of subunit II are the likely ligands of CuA, forming a centre that may be structurally similar to that in azurin. The two haems may be sandwiched between two transmembranous segments of subunit I, one of which also provides a histidine ligand to CuB. A third segment may provide two more histidine ligands to the latter. The model was constructed with a 4 A Fe‐Cu distance in the binuclear haem a3‐CuB centre, and a 14 A distance between the haem irons. The subunit I model involves only three transmembranous helices which bind three catalytic metal groups. The fit of this model to several known physicochemical properties of the redox centres is analysed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2819-2823
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1987
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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