The molybdenum cofactor prepared by denaturing xanthine oxidase by heat treatment or other methods was partially purified by anaerobic gel filtration in the presence of sodium dithionite, with little loss of activity. A range of products with different elution volumes was obtained. This behaviour is apparently related to association of the molybdenum cofactor with various residual peptides. E.p.r. signals from molybdenum (V) in the active cofactor, present either in crude preparations or in purified fractions, may be generated in dimethyl sulphoxide solution by controlled oxidation carried out on the molybdenum cofactor alone or in the presence of added thiols. The g-values of the spectra suggest that in the oxidized cofactor molybdenum has one terminal oxygen ligand and four ligands from thiolate groups. It is proposed that two of these are from the organic part of the cofactor and two from cysteine residues in the protein or in residual peptides. A signal generated in high yield with little loss of cofactor activity in the presence of thiophenol has g parallel = 2.0258 and g = 1.9793. It is suggested that in this species two cysteine residues have been replaced by two thiophenol molecules. The possible usefulness of the thiophenol complex in further purification of the molybdenum cofactor is discussed.

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