The oxidation-reduction properties of free cytochrome b2 isolated by controlled proteolysis from flavocytochrome b2, i.e. the flavodehydrogenase-bound cytochrome b2, were investigated by using stopped-flow spectrophotometry. The rapid kinetics of the reduction of cytochrome b2 by flavocytochrome b2 in the presence of L-lactate are reported. The self-exchange rate constant between reduced cytochrome b2 bound to the flavodehydrogenase and free cytochrome b2 was determined to be 10(5) M−1 X S−1 at 5 degrees C, I 0.2 and pH 7.0. The specific electron-transfer reaction between reduced cytochrome b2 and cytochrome c was also studied, giving an apparent second-order rate constant of 10(7) M−1 X S−1 at 5 degrees C, I 0.2 and pH 7.0. This electron-exchange rate is slightly modulated by ionic strength, following the Debye-Hückel relationship with a charge factor Z1Z2 = −1.9. Comparison of these data with those for the reduction of cytochrome c by flavodehydrogenase-bound cytochrome b2 [Capeillère-Blandin (1982) Eur. J. Biochem. 128, 533-542] leads to the conclusion that the intramolecular electron exchange between haem b2 and haem c within the reaction complex occurs at a rate very similar to that determined experimentally in presence of the flavodehydrogenase domain. The low reaction rate observed with free cytochrome b2 is ascribed to the low stability of the reaction complex formed between free cytochrome b2 and cytochrome c.

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