Medium- and short-chain acyl-CoA oxidases were identified in and subsequently purified from dark-grown maize plantlets. The oxidase showing preference for medium-chain fatty acyl-CoAs (C10–C14) was purified to homogeneity. The oxidase showing preference for short-chain fatty acyl-CoAs (C4–C8) was purified over 150-fold. Various catalytic properties confirmed these enzymes to be true acyl-CoA oxidases. They produced trans-2-enoyl-CoA and H2O2 from the saturated acyl-CoA, as verified by various independent assay techniques. They also exhibited FAD-dependent activity; i.e. removal of loosely bound FAD by gel filtration markedly reduced activity, which could be restored upon re-addition of FAD. They showed apparent Km values between 2 and 10 µM for the acyl-CoA substrate giving maximal activity, no activity with the corresponding free fatty acid, high pH optima (8.3–8.6) and a peroxisomal subcellular location. The medium-chain acyl-CoA oxidase was determined to be a monomeric protein with a molecular mass of 62 kDa. The short-chain acyl-CoA oxidase was shown to have a native molecular mass of 60 kDa, but exhibited a labile multimeric structure, as indicated by the elution of multiple peaks of activity during several chromatographic steps, and ultimately by the purification of a subunit of molecular mass 15 kDa. The medium- and short-chain acyl-CoA oxidases were demonstrated to be distinct from the maize equivalent of the cucumber glyoxysomal long-chain acyl-CoA oxidase previously purified and characterized [Kirsch, Loffler and Kindl (1986) J. Biol. Chem. 261, 8570–8575]. The maize long-chain acyl-CoA oxidase was partially purified to permit determination of its substrate specificity; it showed activity with a broad range of acyl-CoAs of chain length greater than C8, and maximal activity with C16. The implications of the existence of multiple acyl-CoA oxidases in the regulation of plant peroxisomal β-oxidation are discussed.

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Author notes

Present address: Institute National de la Recherche Agronomique, Centre de Recherches d'Orléans, 45160 Ardon, France.