EPR and redox characterization of iron-sulfur centers in nitrate reductases A and Z from Escherichia coli. Evidence for a high-potential and a low-potential class and their relevance in the electron-transfer mechanism

Eur J Biochem. 1992 Jul 1;207(1):61-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1432-1033.1992.tb17020.x.


The redox properties of the iron-sulfur centers of the two nitrate reductases from Escherichia coli have been investigated by EPR spectroscopy. A detailed study of nitrate reductase A performed in the range +200 mV to -500 mV shows that the four iron-sulfur centers of the enzyme belong to two classes with markedly different redox potentials. The high-potential group comprises a [3Fe-4S] and a [4Fe-4S] cluster whose midpoint potentials are +60 mV and +80 mV, respectively. Although these centers are magnetically isolated, they are coupled by a significant anticooperative redox interaction of about 50 mV. The [4Fe-4S]1+ center occurs in two different conformations as shown by its composite EPR spectrum. The low-potential group contains two [4Fe-4S] clusters with more typical redox potentials (-200 mV and -400 mV). In the fully reduced state, the three [4Fe-4S]1+ centers are magnetically coupled, leading to a broad featureless spectrum. The redox behaviour of the high-pH EPR signal given by the molybdenum cofactor was also studied. The iron-sulfur centers of the second nitrate reductase of E. coli, nitrate reductase Z, exhibit essentially the same characteristics than those of nitrate reductase A, except that the midpoint potentials of the high-potential centers appear negatively shifted by about 100 mV. From the comparison between the redox centers of nitrate reductase and of dimethylsulfoxide reductase, a correspondence between the high-potential iron-sulfur clusters of the two enzymes can be proposed.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / enzymology
  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Electron Transport
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / chemistry*
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / genetics
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins / metabolism
  • Isoenzymes / chemistry*
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Nitrate Reductases / chemistry*
  • Nitrate Reductases / genetics
  • Nitrate Reductases / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Plasmids


  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins
  • Isoenzymes
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Nitrate Reductases
  • dimethyl sulfoxide reductase