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Proton pumping in the bc1 complex: a new gating mechanism that prevents short circuits.

TitleProton pumping in the bc1 complex: a new gating mechanism that prevents short circuits.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsCrofts AR, Lhee S, Crofts SB, Cheng J, Rose S
JournalBiochimica et biophysica acta
Date Published2006 Aug

The Q-cycle mechanism of the bc1 complex explains how the electron transfer from ubihydroquinone (quinol, QH2) to cytochrome (cyt) c (or c2 in bacteria) is coupled to the pumping of protons across the membrane. The efficiency of proton pumping depends on the effectiveness of the bifurcated reaction at the Q(o)-site of the complex. This directs the two electrons from QH2 down two different pathways, one to the high potential chain for delivery to an electron acceptor, and the other across the membrane through a chain containing heme bL and bH to the Qi-site, to provide the vectorial charge transfer contributing to the proton gradient. In this review, we discuss problems associated with the turnover of the bc1 complex that center around rates calculated for the normal forward and reverse reactions, and for bypass (or short-circuit) reactions. Based on rate constants given by distances between redox centers in known structures, these appeared to preclude conventional electron transfer mechanisms involving an intermediate semiquinone (SQ) in the Q(o)-site reaction. However, previous research has strongly suggested that SQ is the reductant for O2 in generation of superoxide at the Q(o)-site, introducing an apparent paradox. A simple gating mechanism, in which an intermediate SQ mobile in the volume of the Q(o)-site is a necessary component, can readily account for the observed data through a coulombic interaction that prevents SQ anion from close approach to heme bL when the latter is reduced. This allows rapid and reversible QH2 oxidation, but prevents rapid bypass reactions. The mechanism is quite natural, and is well supported by experiments in which the role of a key residue, Glu-295, which facilitates proton transfer from the site through a rotational displacement, has been tested by mutation.</p>

Alternate JournalBiochim. Biophys. Acta