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Cytochrome bc 1 complexes (cyt bc 1), also known as complex III in mitochondria, are components of the cellular respiratory chain and of the photosynthetic apparatus of non-oxygenic photosynthetic bacteria. They catalyze electron transfer (ET) from ubiquinol to cytochrome c and concomitantly translocate protons across the membrane, contributing to the cross-membrane potential essential for a myriad of cellular activities. This ET-coupled proton translocation reaction requires a gating mechanism that ensures bifurcated electron flow. Here, we report the observation of the Rieske iron-sulfur protein (ISP) in a mobile state, as revealed by the crystal structure of cyt bc 1 from the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides in complex with the fungicide azoxystrobin. Unlike cyt bc 1 inhibitors stigmatellin and famoxadone that immobilize the ISP, azoxystrobin causes the ISP-ED to separate from the cyt b subunit and to remain in a mobile state. Analysis of anomalous scattering signals from the iron-sulfur cluster of the ISP suggests the existence of a trajectory for electron delivery. This work supports and solidifies the hypothesis that the bimodal conformation switch of the ISP provides a gating mechanism for bifurcated ET, which is essential to the Q-cycle mechanism of cyt bc 1 function. © 2019 Esser et al.


Lothar Esser, Fei Zhou, Chang-An Yu, Di Xia. Crystal structure of bacterial cytochrome bc 1 in complex with azoxystrobin reveals a conformational switch of the Rieske iron-sulfur protein subunit. The Journal of biological chemistry. 2019 Aug 09;294(32):12007-12019

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PMID: 31182483

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