Dioxygen reduction by multi-copper oxidases; a structural perspective

Dalton Trans. 2005 Nov 7:(21):3507-13. doi: 10.1039/b504806k. Epub 2005 Sep 27.


The multi-copper oxidases oxidise substrate molecules by accepting electrons at a mononuclear copper centre and transferring them to a trinuclear centre. Dioxygen binds to the trinuclear centre and, following the transfer of four electrons, is reduced to two molecules of water. The precise mechanism of this reduction has been unclear, but recent X-ray structural studies using the CotA endospore coat protein from Bacillus subtilis have given further insights into the principal stages. It is proposed that the mechanism involves binding of the dioxygen into the trinuclear centre so that it is sited approximately symmetrically between the two type 3 copper ions with one oxygen atom close to the type 2 copper ion. Further stages involve the formation of a peroxide intermediate and following the splitting of this intermediate, the migration of the hydroxide moieties towards the solvent exit channel. The migration steps are likely to involve a movement of the type 2 copper ion and its environment. Details of a putative mechanism are described herein based both on structures already reported in the literature and on structures of the CotA protein in the oxidised and reduced states and with the addition of peroxide and the inhibitor, azide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Azides / chemistry
  • Bacillus subtilis / enzymology*
  • Copper / chemistry
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Electrons
  • Laccase / chemistry*
  • Laccase / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidoreductases / chemistry*
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / chemistry*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary


  • Azides
  • Copper
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Laccase
  • copper oxidase
  • Oxygen