The mechanism of the enzymic reaction of an iron-containing superoxide dismutase purified from the marine bacterium Photobacterium leiognathi was studied by using pulse radiolysis. Measurements of activity were done with two different preparations of enzyme containing either 1.6 or 1.15 g-atom of iron/mol. In both cases, identical values of the second-order rate constant for reaction between superoxide dismutase and the superoxide ion in the pH range 6.2-9.0 (k=5.5 X 10(8) M-1-S-1 at pH 8.0) were found. As with the bovine erythrocuprein, there was no evidence for substrate saturation. The effects of reducing agents (H2O2, sodium ascorbate or CO2 radicals) on the visible and the electron-paramagnetic-resonance spectra of the superoxide dismutase containing 1.6 g-atom of ferric iron/mol indicate that this enzyme contains two different types of iron. Turnover experiments demonstrate that only that fraction of the ferric iron that is reduced by H2O2 is involved in the catalysis, being alternately oxidized and reduced by O2; both the oxidation and the reduction steps have a rate constant equal to that measured under turnover conditions. These results are interpreted by assuming that the superoxide dismutase isolated from the organism contains 1 g-atom of catalytic iron/mol and a variable amount of non-catalytic iron. This interpretation is discused in relation to the stoicheiometry reported for iron-containing superoxide dismutases prepared from several other organisms.

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