Upper and lower limits of the proton stoichiometry of cytochrome c oxidation in rat liver mitoplasts

B. Reynafarje, L. E. Costa, A. L. Lehninger

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The stoichiometry of vectorial H+ translocation coupled to oxidation of added ferrocytochrome c by O2 via cytochrome-c oxidase of rat liver mitoplasts was determined employing a fast-responding O2 electrode. Electron flow was initiated by addition of either ferrocytochrome c or O2. When the rates were extrapolated to level flow, the H+/O ratios in both cases were less than but closely approached 4; the directly observed H+/O ratios significantly exceeded 3.0. The mechanistic H+/O ratio was then more closely fixed by a kinetic approach that eliminates the necessity for measuring energy leaks and is independent of any particular model of the mechanism of energy transduction. From two sets of kinetic measurements, an overestimate and an underestimate and thus the upper and lower limits of the mechanistic H+/O ratio could be obtained. In the first set, the utilization of respiratory energy was systematically varied through changes in the concentrations of valinomycin or K+. From the slope of a plot of the initial rates of H+ ejection (J(H)) and O2 uptake (J(O)) obtained in such experiments, the upper limit of the H+/O ratio was in the range 4.12-4.19. In the second set of measurements, the rate of respiratory energy production was varied by inhibiting electron transport. From the slope of a plot of J(H) versus J(O), the lower limit of the H+/O ratio, equivalent to that at level flow, was in the range 3.83-3.96. These data fix the mechanistic H+/O ratio for the cytochrome oxidase reaction of mitoplasts at 4.0, thus confirming our earlier measurements (Reynafarje, B., Alexandre, A., Davies, P., and Lehninger, A.L. (1982) Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 79, 7218-7222). Possible reasons for discrepancies in published reports on the H+/O ratio of cytochrome oxidase in various mitochondrial and reconstituted systems are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8254-8262
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number18
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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