The interaction of e-aq., CO2-. and one-electron reduced nitroaromatics (RNO2-.) with ascorbate oxidase (AAO) was studied in aqueous solution at pH 6.0 and 7.5 by using the technique of pulse radiolysis. From observations at 330, 410 and 610 nm, interaction of e-aq. and CO2-. with AAO results in non-specific reduction of the protein followed by reduction of Type 1 Cu in a rate-determining intramolecular step. Only a few per cent of the reducing equivalents ultimately results in reduction of Type 1 Cu. With large excesses of reducing equivalents (e-aq. and CO2-.) with respect to the copper concentration, the amount of Type 1 copper reduced never exceeds 50% of the total amount of Type 1 copper after a single radiation pulse. With less-powerful reducing agents, e.g. RNO2-. reduction of Type 1 Cu occurs via a bimolecular step, and there is no evidence for formation of radicals on protein residues. From observations at 330 nm it is evident that Type 2 and/or Type 3 Cu may also be reduced along with Type 1 Cu. Almost stoichiometric reduction of AAO by RNO2-. was observed, e.g. the protein accepts 6-7 reducing equivalents. It is inferred that the various types of redox couples Cu2+/Cu+ are in equilibrium and that intramolecular electron transfer between the different types of Cu is not rate-determining when using RNO2-. as reducing agent.

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