The major soluble cytochrome isolated from microaerobically grown cells of Shewanella putrefaciens has been shown to be a novel type of flavocytochrome with fumarate reductase activity. This flavocytochrome, located in the periplasmic fraction of cell extracts, has been purified to homogeneity and shown to contain 4 mol of haem c and 1 mol of non-covalently bound FAD per mol of protein. An M(r) value of 63,800 is estimated from sequence analysis assuming 4 mol of haem/mol of protein. In the presence of the artificial electron donor, reduced methyl viologen, the flavocytochrome catalysed the reduction of fumarate but not that of nitrite, dimethylsulphoxide, trimethylamine-N-oxide or sulphite. The pH optimum was 7.4 with calculated pKa values of 6.8 and 8.0 for contributing catalytic groups. The Km and kcat. values for fumarate reduction were 21 microM and 250 s-1 respectively, whereas the corresponding values for succinate oxidation with 2,6-dichlorophenol-indophenol as electron carriers were 200 microM and 0.07 s-1 respectively. Mesaconic acid was a competitive inhibitor of fumarate reduction with a Ki of 2 microM. Zymogram staining of polyacrylamide gels with purified protein showed a band of fumarate reductase activity. Polyclonal antibodies, raised to the purified flavocytochrome, were shown to titrate out fumarate reductase activity. We conclude that the physiological role of this enzyme is as a fumarate reductase. Optical absorption spectra of the flavocytochrome indicated that all the haems were of the c-type and gave alpha, beta and gamma peaks at 552.3, 523 and 418 nm in the reduced spectrum with epsilon values of 30.2, 15.9 and 188.2 respectively. Oxidized spectra showed no 695 nm band that would be indicative of His-Met coordination. Two redox potentials were resolved at -220 mV and -320 mV. The cytochrome was reduced by formate in the presence of particulate cell fractions. The relationship of this cytochrome to other low-potential flavocytochromes c is discussed.

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