The interactions of one-electron reduced metronidazole (ArNO2.-) and O2.- with native and Type-2-copper-depleted Vietnamese- and Japanese-lacquer-tree laccases were studied in aqueous solution at pH 6.0 and 7.4 by using the technique of pulse radiolysis. On reaction with ArNO2.-, in the absence of O2, the holo- and the Type-2-copper-depleted proteins accept, with reduction of Type 1 copper, 2 and 1 reducing equivalents respectively. On reaction with O2.- of both holo- and Type-2-copper-depleted Vietnamese-lacquer-tree laccase, almost complete reduction of Type 1 copper was observed and, after completion of the reaction, some (less than 20%) reoxidation of Type 1 copper occurs. Reduction of Type 1 copper of the laccases by these one-electron donors occurs via a bimolecular step; however, the rate of reduction of Vietnamese-lacquer-tree laccase is over 10 times that of Japanese-lacquer-tree laccase. It is inferred that electrons enter the protein via Type 1 copper with, in the case of the holoprotein, subsequent rapid intramolecular transfer of 1 reducing equivalent within the protein. Furthermore it is suggested that intra-molecular electron transfer to Type 3 copper atoms is slow and, in the case of Type-2-copper-depleted protein, may not occur. This slow process may partially account for the variation of the catalytic activities of ‘blue’ oxidases.

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