Haem–copper oxidases are the terminal enzymes in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic respiratory chains. They catalyse the reduction of dioxygen to water and convert redox energy into a transmembrane electrochemical proton gradient during their catalytic activity. Haem–copper oxidases show substantial structure similarity, but spectroscopic and biochemical analyses indicate that these enzymes contain diverse prosthetic groups and use different substrates (i.e. cytochrome c or quinol). Owing to difficulties in membrane protein crystallization, there are no definitive structural data about the quinol oxidase physiological substrate-binding site(s). In the present paper, we propose an atomic structure model for the menaquinol:O2 oxidoreductase of Bacillus subtilis (QOx.aa3). Furthermore, a multistep computational approach is used to predict residues involved in the menaquinol/menaquinone binding within B. subtilis QOx.aa3 as well as those involved in quinol/quinone binding within Escherichia coli QOx.bo3. Two specific sequence motifs, R70GGXDX4RXQX3PX3FX[D/N/E/Q]X2HYNE97 and G159GSPX2GWX2Y169 (B. subtilis numbering), were highlighted within QOx from Bacillales. Specific residues within the first and the second sequence motif participate in the high- and low-affinity substrate-binding sites respectively. Using comparative analysis, two analogous motifs, R71GFXDX4RXQX8[Y/F]XPPHHYDQ101 and G163EFX3GWX2Y173 (E. coli numbering) were proposed to be involved in Enterobacteriales/Rhodobacterales/Rhodospirillales QOx high- and low-affinity quinol-derivative-binding sites. Results and models are discussed in the context of the literature.

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