Early modification of cytochrome c by hydrogen peroxide triggers its fast degradation

Int J Biol Macromol. 2021 Mar 31;174:413-423. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2021.01.189. Epub 2021 Jan 30.


Cytochrome c (cyt c), in addition to its function as an electron shuttle in respiratory chain, is able to perform as a pseudo-peroxidase with a critical role during apoptosis. Incubation of cyt c with an excess of hydrogen peroxide leads to a suicide inactivation of the protein, which is accompanied by heme destruction and covalent modification of numerous amino acid residues. Although steady-state reactions of cyt c with an excess of hydrogen peroxide represent non-physiological conditions, they might be used for analysis of the first-modified amino acid in in vivo. Here, we observed oxidation of tyrosine residues 67 and 74 and heme as the first modifications found upon incubation with hydrogen peroxide. The positions of the oxidized tyrosines suggest a possible migration pathway of hydrogen peroxide-induced radicals from the site of heme localization to the protein surface. Analysis of a size of folded fraction of cyt c upon limited incubation with hydrogen peroxide indicates that the early oxidation of amino acids triggers an accelerated destruction of cyt c. Position of channels from molecular dynamics simulation structures of cyt c points to a location of amino acid residues exposed to reactive oxidants that are thus more prone to covalent modification.

Keywords: Oxidative damage; Protein channels; Pseudo-peroxidases; Reactive oxygen species; Suicide inactivation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Cytochromes c / chemistry*
  • Cytochromes c / genetics
  • Cytochromes c / metabolism*
  • Horses
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Stability
  • Proteolysis
  • Tyrosine / chemistry


  • Tyrosine
  • Cytochromes c
  • Hydrogen Peroxide