This review is concerned with the structure and function of the quinoprotein enzymes, sometimes called quinoenzymes. These have prosthetic groups containing quinones, the name thus being analogous to the flavoproteins containing flavin prosthetic groups. Pyrrolo-quinoline quinone (PQQ) is non-covalently attached, whereas tryptophan tryptophylquinone (TTQ), topa-quinone (TPQ) and lysine tyrosylquinone (LTQ) are derived from amino acid residues in the backbone of the enzymes. The mechanisms of the quinoproteins are reviewed and related to their recently determined three-dimensional structures. As expected, the quinone structures in the prosthetic groups play important roles in the mechanisms. A second common feature is the presence of a catalytic base (aspartate) at the active site which initiates the reactions by abstracting a proton from the substrate, and it is likely to be involved in multiple reactions in the mechanism. A third common feature of these enzymes is that the first part of the reaction produces a reduced prosthetic group; this part of the mechanism is fairly well understood. This is followed by an oxidative phase involving electron transfer reactions which remain poorly understood. In both types of dehydrogenase (containing PQQ and TTQ), electrons must pass from the reduced prosthetic group to redox centres in a second recipient protein (or protein domain), whereas in amine oxidases (containing TPQ or LTQ), electrons must be transferred to molecular oxygen by way of a redox-active copper ion in the protein.

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