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Electron Transfer in Cytochrome c Oxidase: The Rate of Electron Equillibration Between Cytochrome a and Copper A


Morgan, Joel Edgar (1989) Electron Transfer in Cytochrome c Oxidase: The Rate of Electron Equillibration Between Cytochrome a and Copper A. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/88fd-2939.


Intramolecular electron transfer in partially reduced cytochrome c oxidase has been studied by means of perturbed equilibrium techniques. We have prepared a three electron reduced, CO inhibited form of the enzyme in which cytochrome a and copper A are partially reduced an in intramolecular redox equilibrium. When these samples were photolyzed using a nitrogen laser (0.6 µs, 1.0 mJ pulses) changes in absorbance at 598 nm and 830 nm were observed which are consistent with a fast electron from cytochrome a to copper A. The absorbance changes at 598 nm have an apparent rate of 17,200 ± 1,700 s-1 (1σ), at pH 7.0 and 25.5 °C. These changes were not observed in either the CO mixed valence or CO inhibited fully reduced forms of the enzyme. The rate is fastest at about pH 8.0, and falls off in either direction, and there is a small, but clear temperature dependence. The process was also observed in the cytochrome c -- cytochrome c oxidase high affinity complex.

This rate is far faster than any rate measured or inferred previously for the cytochrome a -- copper A electron equilibration, but the interpretation of these results is hampered by the fact that the relaxation could only be followed during the time before CO became rebound to the oxygen binding site. The meaning of our our measured rate is discussed, along with other reported rates for this process. In addition, a temperature-jump experiment on the same system is discussed.

We have also prepared a partially reduced, cyanide inhibited form of the enzyme in which cytochrome a, copper A and copper B are partially reduced and in redox equilibrium. Warming these samples produced absorbance changes at 605 nm which indicate that cytochrome a was becoming more oxidized, but there were no parallel changes in absorbance at 830 nm as would be expected if copper A was becoming reduced. We concluded that electrons were being redistributed from cytochrome a to copper B. The kinetics of the absorbance changes at 605 nm were investigated by temperature-jump methods. Although a rate could not be resolved, we concluded that the process must occur with an (apparent) rate larger than 10,000 s-1.

During the course of the temperature-jump experiments, we also found that non-redox related, temperature dependent absorbance changes in fully reduced CO inhibited cytochrome c oxidase, and in the cyanide mixed valence enzyme, took place with an (apparent) rate faster that 30,000 s-1.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Chemistry
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Chan, Sunney I.
Thesis Committee:
  • Hopfield, John J. (chair)
  • Chan, Sunney I.
  • Gray, Harry B.
  • Lester, Henry A.
Defense Date:10 August 1988
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06042013-091916969
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7829
Deposited On:04 Jun 2013 16:53
Last Modified:01 Sep 2021 01:11

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