The quinoprotein methanol dehydrogenase (MDH) of Acetobacter methanolicus has an alpha 2 beta 2 structure. By contrast with other MDHs, the beta-subunit (approx. 8.5 kDa) does not contain the five lysine residues previously proposed to be involved in ionic interactions with the electron acceptor cytochrome cL. That electrostatic interactions are involved was confirmed by the demonstration that methanol:cytochrome cL oxidoreductase activity was inhibited by high ionic strength (I), the strength of interaction being inversely related to the square root of I. Specific modifiers of arginine residues on MDH inhibited this reaction but not the dye-linked MDH activity. Modification of lysine residues on MDH that altered its charge had no effect on the dye-linked activity but inhibited reaction with cytochrome cL. When the charge was retained on modification of lysine residues, little effect on either activity was observed. Cross-linking experiments confirmed that lysine residues on the alpha-subunit, but not the beta-subunit, are involved in the ‘docking’ process between the proteins.

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