Low concentrations (1–50μm) of ubiquinol1 were rapidly oxidized by spheroplasts of Escherichia coli derepressed for synthesis of nitrate reductase using either nitrate or oxygen as electron acceptor. Oxidation of ubiquinol1 drove an outward translocation of protons with a corrected →H+/2e stoichiometry [Scholes & Mitchell (1970) J. Bioenerg.1, 309–323] of 1.49 when nitrate was the acceptor and 2.28 when oxygen was the acceptor. Proton translocation driven by the oxidation of added ubiquinol1 was also observed in spheroplasts from a double quinone-deficient mutant strain AN384 (ubiAmenA), whereas a haem-deficient mutant, strain A1004a, did not oxidize ubiquinol1. Proton translocation was not observed if either the protonophore carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone or the respiratory inhibitor 2-n-heptyl-4-hydroxyquinoline N-oxide was present. When spheroplasts oxidized Diquat radical (DQ+) to the oxidized species (DQ++) with nitrate as acceptor, nitrate was reduced to nitrite according to the reaction: [Formula: see text] and nitrite was further reduced in the reaction: [Formula: see text] Nitrite reductase activity (2) was inhibited by CO, leaving nitrate reductase activity (1) unaffected. Benzyl Viologen radical (BV+) is able to cross the cytoplasmic membrane and is oxidized directly by nitrate reductase to the divalent cation, BV++. In the presence of CO, this reaction consumes two protons: [Formula: see text] The consumption of these protons could not be detected by a pH electrode in the extra-cellular bulk phase of a suspension of spheroplasts unless the cytoplasmic membrane was made permeable to protons by the addition of nigericin or tetrachlorosalicylanilide. It is concluded that the protons of eqn. (3) are consumed at the cytoplasmic aspect of the cytoplasmic membrane. Diquat radical, reduced N-methylphenazonium methosulphate and its sulphonated analogue N-methylphenazonium-3-sulphonate (PMSH) and ubiquinol1 are all oxidized by nitrate reductase via a haem-dependent, endogenous quinone-independent, 2-n-heptyl-4-hydroxyquinoline N-oxide-sensitive pathway. Approximate→H+/2e stoichiometries were zero with Diquat radical, an electron donor, 1.0 with reduced N-methylphenazonium methosulphate or its sulphonated analogue, both hydride donors, and 2.0 with ubiquinol1 (QH2), a hydrogen donor. It is concluded that the protons appearing in the medium are derived from the reductant and the observed→H+/2e stoichiometries are accounted for by the following reactions occurring at the periplasmic aspect of the cytoplasmic membrane.: [Formula: see text]

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