The reaction between the superoxide anion radical and cytochrome c

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1975 Dec 11;408(3):215-22. doi: 10.1016/0005-2728(75)90124-3.


1. The superoxide anion radical (O2-) reacts with ferricytochrome c to form ferrocytochrome c. No intermediate complexes are observable. No reaction could be detected between O2- and ferrocytochrome c. 2. At 20 degrees C the rate constant for the reaction at pH 4.7 to 6.7 is 1.4-10(6) M-1. S -1 and as the pH increases above 6.7 the rate constant steadily decreases. The dependence on pH is the same for tuna heart and horse heart cytochrome c. No reaction could be demonstrated between O2- and the form of cytochrome c which exists above pH approximately 9.2. The dependence of the rate constant on pH can be explained if cytochrome c has pKs of 7.45 and 9.2, and O2- reacts with the form present below pH 7.45 with k = 1.4-10(6) M-1 - S-1, the form above pH 7.45 with k = 3.0- 10(5) M-1 - S-1, and the form present above pH 9.2 with k = 0. 3. The reaction has an activation energy of 20 kJ mol-1 and an enthalpy of activation at 25 degrees C of 18 kJ mol-1 both above and below pH 7.45. It is suggested that O2- may reduce cytochrome c through a track composed of aromatic amino acids, and that little protein rearrangement is required for the formation of the activated complex. 4. No reduction of ferricytochrome c by HO2 radicals could be demonstrated at pH 1.2-6.2 but at pH 5.3, HO2 radicals oxidize ferrocytochrome c with a rate constant of about 5-10(5)-5-10(6) M-1 - S-1.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Calorimetry
  • Cytochrome c Group*
  • Free Radicals
  • Horses
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Kinetics
  • Myocardium / enzymology
  • Oxygen*
  • Protein Binding
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Superoxides*
  • Temperature
  • Thermodynamics


  • Cytochrome c Group
  • Free Radicals
  • Superoxides
  • Oxygen