Assembly of the phagocyte NADPH oxidase: molecular interaction of oxidase proteins

J Leukoc Biol. 1996 Dec;60(6):677-91. doi: 10.1002/jlb.60.6.677.


Phagocytes such as neutrophils play a key role in the body's innate immune response to infection. These cells travel throughout the body in search of pathogens and are rapidly mobilized to sites of inflammation where they phagocytose these pathogens and subsequently release a variety of toxic oxygen radical species and proteolytic enzymes to directly destroy the engulfed particle. The generation of microbicidal oxidants by neutrophils results from the action of a multi-protein enzymatic complex known as the NADPH oxidase. Altogether, there are currently seven proteins reported to be associated with the NADPH oxidase assembly. In resting neutrophils, these NADPH oxidase protein components are segregated into cytoplasmic and plasma membrane compartments. However, during assembly and activation of the NADPH oxidase, the cytosolic protein components translocate to the plasma membrane or phagosomal membrane where they assemble around a central membrane-bound protein known as flavocytochrome b. This assembly process is highly regulated and involves multiple binding interactions between the individual NADPH oxidase proteins, resulting in an active oxidase complex. Over the past few years, a number of these sites of binding interaction between the oxidase proteins have been identified, leading to a clearer understanding of the intermolecular interactions occurring among protein components during the assembly process. In addition, this information has contributed to our understanding of the roles played by each protein during the activation and assembly process. In this review, we describe the key features of each NADPH oxidase protein and then summarize our current understanding of the specific molecular interactions occurring between these proteins, focusing on the role these protein:protein binding interactions play in the NADPH oxidase assembly process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Cytochrome b Group / chemistry
  • Enzyme Activation
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Humans
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Models, Biological
  • NADPH Oxidases / chemistry*
  • Phagocytes / enzymology*
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / chemistry
  • Phosphoproteins / chemistry
  • Phosphoproteins / physiology
  • Protein Binding
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • src Homology Domains


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytochrome b Group
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Proteins
  • neutrophil cytosol factor 67K
  • rapA protein, Bacillus subtilis
  • cytochrome b558
  • NADPH Oxidases
  • neutrophil cytosolic factor 1
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases