Flavin-linked Erv-family sulfhydryl oxidases release superoxide anion during catalytic turnover

Biochemistry. 2012 Jan 10;51(1):265-72. doi: 10.1021/bi201672h. Epub 2011 Dec 16.


Typically, simple flavoprotein oxidases couple the oxidation of their substrates with the formation of hydrogen peroxide without release of significant levels of the superoxide ion. However, two evolutionarily related single-domain sulfhydryl oxidases (Erv2p; a yeast endoplasmic reticulum resident protein and augmenter of liver regeneration, ALR, an enzyme predominantly found in the mitochondrial intermembrane) release up to ~30% of the oxygen they reduce as the superoxide ion. Both enzymes oxidize dithiol substrates via a redox-active disulfide adjacent to the flavin cofactor within the helix-rich Erv domain. Subsequent reduction of the flavin is followed by transfer of reducing equivalents to molecular oxygen. Superoxide release was initially detected using tris(3-hydroxypropyl)phosphine (THP) as an alternative reducing substrate to dithiothreitol (DTT). THP, and other phosphines, showed anomalously high turnover numbers with Erv2p and ALR in the oxygen electrode, but oxygen consumption was drastically suppressed upon the addition of superoxide dismutase. The superoxide ion initiates a radical chain reaction promoting the aerobic oxidation of phosphines with the formation of hydrogen peroxide. Use of a known flux of superoxide generated by the xanthine/xanthine oxidase system showed that one superoxide ion stimulates the reduction of 27 and 4.5 molecules of oxygen using THP and tris(2-carboxyethyl)phosphine (TCEP), respectively. This superoxide-dependent amplification of oxygen consumption by phosphines provides a new kinetic method for the detection of superoxide. Superoxide release was also observed by a standard chemiluminescence method using a luciferin analogue (MCLA) when 2 mM DTT was employed as a substrate of Erv2p and ALR. The percentage of superoxide released from Erv2p increased to ~65% when monomeric mutants of the normally homodimeric enzyme were used. In contrast, monomeric multidomain quiescin sulfhydryl oxidase enzymes that also contain an Erv FAD-binding fold release only 1-5% of their total reduced oxygen species as the superoxide ion. Aspects of the mechanism and possible physiological significance of superoxide release from these Erv-domain flavoproteins are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspergillus niger / enzymology
  • Catalysis
  • Cation Transport Proteins / chemistry*
  • Cation Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Cattle
  • Cytochrome Reductases / chemistry*
  • Flavoproteins / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Milk / enzymology
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidoreductases / chemistry*
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on Sulfur Group Donors / chemistry*
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Protozoan Proteins / chemistry
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / chemistry*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Superoxides / chemistry*
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / enzymology


  • ALR1 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Flavoproteins
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Superoxides
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Cytochrome Reductases
  • GFER protein, human
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on Sulfur Group Donors
  • quiescin sulfhydryl oxidase, Trypanosoma brucei
  • ERV2 protein, S cerevisiae
  • QSOX1 protein, human