Cytochrome bd is a quinol oxidase from Escherichia coli, which is optimally expressed under microaerophilic growth conditions. The enzyme catalyzes the two-electron oxidation of either ubiquinol or menaquinol in the membrane and scavenges O2 at low concentrations, reducing it to water. Previous work has shown that, although cytochrome bd does not pump protons, turnover is coupled to the generation of a proton motive force. The generation of a proton electrochemical gradient results from the release of protons from the oxidation of quinol to the periplasm and the uptake of protons used to form H2O from the cytoplasm. Because the active site has been shown to be located near the periplasmic side of the membrane, a proton channel must facilitate the delivery of protons from the cytoplasm to the site of water formation. Two conserved glutamic acid residues, E107 and E99, are located in transmembrane helix III in subunit I and have been proposed to form part of this putative proton channel. In the current work, it is shown that mutations in either of these residues results in the loss of quinol oxidase activity and can result in the loss of the two hemes at the active site, hemes d and b595. One mutant, E107Q, while being totally inactive, retains the hemes. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) redox difference spectroscopy has identified absorption bands from the COOH group of E107. The data show that E107 is protonated at pH 7.6 and that it is perturbed by the reduction of the heme d/heme b595 binuclear center at the active site. In contrast, mutation of an acidic residue known to be at or near the quinol-binding site (E257A) also inactivates the enzyme but has no substantial influence on the FTIR redox difference spectrum. Mutagenesis shows that there are several acidic residues, including E99 and E107 as well as D29 (in CydB), which are important for the assembly or stability of the heme d/heme b595 active site.
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