Titration of cyanide-incubated cytochrome c oxidase (ox heart cytochrome aa3) with ferrocytochrome c or with NNN'N'-tetramethyl-p-phenylenediamine initially introduces two reducing equivalents per mol of cytochrome aa3. The first equivalent reduces the cytochrome a haem iron; the second reducing equivalent is not associated with reduction of the 830 nm chromophores (e.p.r.-detectable copper) but is probably required for reduction of the e.p.r.-undetectable copper. Excess reductant introduces a third reducing equivalent into the cyanide complex of cytochrome aa3. During steady-state respiration in the presence of cytochrome c and ascorbate, the 830 nm chromophore is almost completely oxidized. It is reduced more slowly than cytochrome a on anaerobiosis. In the presence of formate or azide, some reduction at 830 nm can be seen in the steady state; in an oxygen-pulsed system, a decrease in steady-state reduction of cytochromes c and a is associated with ab increased reduction of the 830 nm species. In the formate-inhibited system the reduction of a3 on anaerobiosis shows a lag phase, the duration of which corresponds to the time taken for the 830 nm species to be reduced. It is concluded that the e.p.r.-undetectable copper (CuD) is reduced early in the reaction sequence, whereas the detectable copper (CUD) is reduced late. The latter species is probably that responsible for reduction of the cytochrome a3 haem. The magnetic association between undetectable copper and the a3 haem may not imply capability for electron transfer, which occurs more readily between cytochrome a3 and the 830 nm species.

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