The L-lactate-flavocytochrome b2-ferricyanide electron-transfer system from the yeast Hansenula anomala was investigated by rapid-reaction techniques. The kinetics of reduction of oxidized flavocytochrome b2 by L-lactate and L-[2H]lactate were biphasic both for flavin and haem prosthetic groups and at all concentrations tested. The first-order rate constants of the rapid and slow phases depended upon substrate concentrations, a saturation behaviour being exhibited. Substitution of the C alpha-H atom by 2H was found to cause appreciable changes in the rate constants for the initial reduction of flavin and haem (phase I), which were respectively about 3-fold and 2-fold less than with L-lactate. In contrast, no significant isotope effect was noted on the apparent reduction rate constants of the slow phase, phase II. Under steady-state conditions an isotope effect of 2.0 was found on the overall electron transfer from L-lactate to ferricyanide. These transient reduction results were discussed in terms of a kinetic model implying intra- and inter-protomer electron exchanges between flavin and haem b2, all of which have been experimentally described. Computer simulations indicate that the reaction scheme provides a reasonable explanation of the fast-reduction phase, phase I (in absence of acceptor). The pseudo-first-order rate constant for oxidation of reduced haem b2 in flavocytochrome b2 increased with increasing ferricyanide concentration in a hyperbolic fashion. The limiting value at infinite ferricyanide concentration, which was attributed to the intramolecular electron-transfer rate from ferroflavocytochrome b2 to the iron of ferricyanide within a complex, was 920 +/- 50 s-1 at pH 7.0 and 5 degrees C. Stopped-flow and rapid-freezing measurements showed haem b2 and flavin to be 90 and 44% oxidized respectively under steady-state conditions in presence of ferricyanide. Simulation studies were carried out to check the participation of the proposed reduction sequence in the overall catalytic reaction together with the role of reduced haem b2 (Hr) and flavin semiquinone (Fsq) as electron donors to ferricyanide. When the rate of the intramolecular electron-transfer exchange between Fsq and ferricyanide was adjusted to 200 s-1, simulated data accounted for molar activities defined under various conditions of L-lactate, [2H]lactate and ferricyanide concentrations. Simulation studies were extended to data obtained using cytochrome c as acceptor and reaction catalysed by Saccharomyces cerevisiae flavocytochrome b2. The differences in reactivity observed for Hr and Fsq with ferricyanide and cytochrome c were discussed in terms of redox potentials, electrostatic interactions, distances and accessibility of the participating groups.

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