The interaction of one-electron reduced metronidazole (ArNO2.-) with native and Type-2-copper-depleted ascorbate oxidase were studied in buffered aqueous solution at pH 6.0 and 7.4 by using the technique of pulse radiolysis. With ArNO2.-, reduction of Type 1 copper of the native enzyme and of the Type-2-copper-depleted ascorbate oxidase occurs via a bimolecular step and at the same rate. Whereas the native protein accepts, in the absence of O2, 6-7 reducing equivalents, Type-2-copper-depleted ascorbate oxidase accepts only 3 reducing equivalents with stoichiometric reduction of Type 1 copper. On reaction of O2.- with ascorbate oxidase under conditions of [O2.-] much greater than [ascorbate oxidase], removal of Type 2 copper results in reduction of all the Type 1 copper atoms, in contrast with reduction of the equivalent of only one Type 1 copper atom in the holoprotein. From observations at 610 nm, the rate of reduction of ascorbate oxidase by O2.- is not dependent on the presence of Type 2 copper. For the holoprotein, no significant optical-absorption changes were observed at 330 nm. It is proposed that electrons enter the protein via Type 1 copper in a rate-determining step followed by a fast intramolecular transfer of electrons within the protein. For the Type-2-copper-depleted protein, intramolecular transfer within the protein, however, is slow or does not occur. In the presence of O2, it is also suggested that re-oxidation of the partially reduced holoprotein occurs at steady state, as inferred from the observations at 330 nm and 610 nm. The role of Type 2 copper in ascorbate oxidase is discussed in terms of its involvement in redistribution of electrons within the protein or structural considerations.

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