The plausible role of arginine and tyrosine residues at the active site of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) in aromatic donor (guaiacol) oxidation was probed by chemical modification followed by characterization of the modified enzyme. The arginine-specific reagents phenylglyoxal (PGO), 2,3-butanedione and 1,2-cyclohexanedione all inactivated the enzyme, following pseudo-first-order kinetics with second-order rate constants of 24 M-1·min-1, 0.8 M-1·min-1 and 0.54 M-1·min-1 respectively. Modification with tetranitromethane, a tyrosine-specific reagent, also resulted in 50% loss of activity following pseudo-first-order kinetics with a second-order rate constant of 2.0 M-1·min-1. The substrate, H2O2, and electron donors such as I- and SCN- offered no protection against inactivation by both types of modifier, whereas the enzyme was completely protected by guaiacol or o-dianisidine, an aromatic electron donor (second substrate) oxidized by the enzyme. These studies indicate the involvement of arginine and tyrosine residues at the aromatic donor site of HRP. The guaiacol-protected phenylglyoxal-modified enzyme showed almost the same binding parameter (Kd) as the native enzyme, and a similar free energy change (∆G´) for the binding of the donor. Stoicheiometric studies with [7-14C]phenylglyoxal showed incorporation of 2 mol of phenylglyoxal per mol of enzyme, indicating modification of one arginine residue for complete inactivation. The difference absorption spectrum of the tetranitromethane-modified against the native enzyme showed a peak at 428 nm, characteristic of the nitrotyrosyl residue, that was abolished by treatment with sodium dithionite, indicating specific modification of a tyrosine residue. Inactivation stoicheiometry showed that modification of one tyrosine residue per enzyme caused 50% inactivation. Binding studies by optical difference spectroscopy indicated that the arginine-modified enzyme could not bind guaiacol at all, whereas the tyrosine-modified enzyme bound it with reduced affinity (Kd 35 mM compared with 10 mM for the native enzyme). Both the modified enzymes, however, retained the property of the formation of compound II (one-electron oxidation state higher than native ferriperoxidase) with H2O2, but reduction of compound II to native enzyme by guaiacol did not occur in the PGO-modified enzyme, owing to lack of binding. No non-specific change in protein structure due to modification was evident from circular dichroism studies. We therefore suggest that the active site of HRP for aromatic donor oxidation is composed of an arginine and an adjacent tyrosine residue, of which the former plays an obligatory role in aromatic donor binding whereas the latter residue plays a facilitatory role, presumably by hydrophobic interaction or hydrogen bonding.

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