When O2 was injected into an anaerobic suspension of valinomycin-treated rat liver mitochondria inhibited with rotenone, antimycin, and myxothiazol, a small amount of O2 (0.23-0.33 ng-atom of O/mg of protein) was reduced extremely rapidly (within the 2 s time-resolution of the oxygen electrode). The subsequent steady-state rate of flow of electrons to oxygen was very low [less than 3 nequiv. X s-1 X (g of mitochondrial protein)-1]. In the presence of valinomycin there was a rapid ejection of protons synchronous with the rapid phase of O2 consumption corresponding to 0.38-0.61 nequiv. of H+ X (mg of mitochondrial protein)-1. When valinomycin was replaced by carbonyl cyanide p-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone (FCCP) there was a rapid alkalification of the medium corresponding to 0.20-0.42 nequiv. of H+ X (mg of mitochondrial protein)-1. When 2 mM-Fe(CN)6(4-) was present to re-reduce endogenous cytochrome c, O2 consumption was still biphasic but the second phase of O2 consumption was very much more rapid [600 nequiv. X s-1 X (g of protein)-1], and resulted in the virtually complete consumption of the O2 in the pulse within 4 s. With 60 microM-Ru(NH3)6(2+) as reductant, O2 consumption was even faster [1200 nequiv. X s-1 X (g of protein)-1]. In a medium containing 150 mM-choline chloride with Ru(NH3)6(2+) as reductant, the proton per reducing equivalent stoichiometry (delta H+O/e-) was +0.95 in the presence of valinomycin and −0.94 in the presence of FCCP. In choline chloride medium containing Ru(NH3)6(2+) and valinomycin, there was an uptake of K+ ions corresponding to 1.86 K+/e-. It is concluded that nearly 1 proton is translocated outwards through cytochrome oxidase per oxidizing equivalent injected in this medium. In low ionic strength sucrose-based medium, with Ru(NH3)6(2+) as reductant, delta H+O/e- was 1.05 in the presence of valinomycin, and −0.71 in the presence of FCCP. It is concluded that the translocation of protons is accompanied by net acid production in this medium.

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