High-stability semiquinone intermediate in nitrate reductase A (NarGHI) from Escherichia coli is located in a quinol oxidation site close to heme bD

Biochemistry. 2007 May 8;46(18):5323-9. doi: 10.1021/bi700074y. Epub 2007 Apr 18.


Quinol/nitrate oxidoreductase (NarGHI) is the first enzyme involved in respiratory denitrification in prokaryotes. Although this complex in E. coli is known to operate with both ubi and menaquinones, the location and the number of quinol binding sites remain elusive. NarGHI strongly stabilizes a semiquinone radical located within the dihemic anchor subunit NarI. To identify its location and function, we used a combination of mutagenesis, kinetics, EPR, and ENDOR spectroscopies. For the NarGHIH66Y and NarGHIH187Y mutants lacking the distal heme bD, no EPR signal of the semiquinone was observed. In contrast, a semiquinone was detected in the NarGHIH56Y mutant lacking the proximal heme bP. Its thermodynamic properties and spectroscopic characteristics, as revealed by Q-band EPR and ENDOR spectroscopies, are identical to those observed in the native enzyme. The substitution by Ala of the Lys86 residue close to heme bD, which was previously proposed to be in a quinol oxidation site of NarGHI (QD), also leads to the loss of the EPR signal of the semiquinone, although both hemes are present. Enzymatic assays carried out on the NarGHIK86A mutant reveal that the substitution dramatically reduces the rate of oxidation of both mena and ubiquinol analogues. These observations demonstrate that the semiquinone observed in NarI is strongly associated with heme bD and that Lys86 is required for its stabilization. Overall, our results indicate that the semiquinone is located within the quinol oxidation site QD. Details of the possible binding motif of the semiquinone and mechanistic implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics
  • Benzoquinones / chemistry*
  • Cytochrome b Group
  • Cytochromes / chemistry*
  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Electron Transport Chain Complex Proteins / chemistry*
  • Enzyme Stability
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / chemistry*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Heme / analogs & derivatives*
  • Heme / chemistry*
  • Hydroquinones / chemistry*
  • Lysine / genetics
  • Nitrate Reductase / chemistry*
  • Nitrate Reductase / genetics
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidoreductases / chemistry*
  • Potentiometry
  • Protein Subunits / chemistry
  • Protein Subunits / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Ubiquinone / metabolism
  • Vitamin K 2 / metabolism


  • Benzoquinones
  • Cytochrome b Group
  • Cytochromes
  • Electron Transport Chain Complex Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Hydroquinones
  • Protein Subunits
  • Vitamin K 2
  • Ubiquinone
  • semiquinone radicals
  • Heme
  • heme d
  • Oxidoreductases
  • NarG protein, E coli
  • Nitrate Reductase
  • napA protein, E coli
  • cytochrome bd terminal oxidase complex, E coli
  • Lysine