Sulphide as an Inhibitor and Electron Donor for the Cytochrome C Oxidase System

Can J Biochem. 1982 Jun;60(6):613-23. doi: 10.1139/o82-076.


Anomalies both kinetic and equilibrium in nature are described for the inhibition of cytochrome c oxidase activity by sulphide in the isolated enzyme and in submitochondrial particles. These anomalies are related to the involvement of more than 1 mol of sulphide in the blockage of one cytochrome aa3 centre. Sulphide reduces resting cytochrome a3, a reaction that results in oxygen uptake and the loss of a sulphide molecule. Sulphide can also reduce cytochromes c and a; in the former case, a part of the one-equivalent oxidation product, presumed to be the SH radical, reacts with oxygen. Such oxygen uptake is also seen under aerobic conditions when ferricyanide reacts with sulphide. Three phases are identified in the inhibitory interaction of sulphide with the cytochrome c oxidase enzyme itself: an initial rapid reaction involving sulphide oxidation, oxygen uptake, and conversion of cytochrome aa3 into the low-spin "oxyferri" form; a subsequent step in which sulphide reduces cytochrome a; and the final inhibitory step in which a third molecule of sulphide binds the a3 iron centre in the cytochrome a2+ a3 3+ (oxy) species to give cytochrome a2+ a3 3+ H2S. the initial events parallel some of the events in the interaction of the cytochrome c-cytochrome aa3 system with monothiols; the final inhibitory event resembles that with cyanide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Drug Stability
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Electrons
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Mitochondria, Heart / enzymology
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidoreductases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Sulfides / pharmacology*


  • Sulfides
  • Oxidoreductases
  • succinate oxidase
  • Electron Transport Complex IV