Redox potentials for the various centres in the enzyme xanthine dehydrogenase (EC from turkey liver determined by potentiometric titration in the presence of mediator dyes, with low-temperature electron-paramagnetic-resonance spectroscopy. Values at 25 degrees C in pyrophosphate buffer, pH 8.2, are: Mo(VI)/Mo(V)(Rapid),-350 +/- 20mV; Mo(V) (Rapid)/Mo(IV), -362 +/- 20mV; Fe-S Iox./Fe-S Ired., -295 +/- 15mV; Fe-S IIox./Fe-S IIred., -292 +/- 15mV; FAD/FADH,-359+-20mV; FADH/FADH2, -366 +/- 20mV. This value of the FADH/FADH2 potential, which is 130mV lower than the corresponding one for milk xanthine oxidase [Cammack, Barber & Bray (1976) Biochem. J. 157, 469-478], accounts for many of the differences between the two enzymes. When allowance is made for some interference by desulpho enzyme, then differences in the enzymes' behaviour in titration with xanthine [Barber, Bray, Lowe & Coughlan (1976) Biochem. J. 153, 297-307] are accounted for by the potentials. Increases in the molybdenum potentials of the enzymes caused by the binding of uric acid are discussed. Though the potential of uric acid/xanthine (-440mV) is favourable for full reduction of the dehydrogenase, nevertheless, during turnover, for kinetic reasons, only FADH and very little FADH2 is produced from it. Since only FADH2 is expected to react with O2, lack of oxidase activity by the dehydrogenase is explained. Reactivity of the two enzymes with NAD+ as electron acceptor is discussed in relation to the potentials.

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