Reduction of N2O to N2 is catalysed by nitrous oxide reductase in the last step of the denitrification pathway. This multicopper enzyme has an electron transferring centre, CuA, and a tetranuclear copper-sulfide catalytic centre, “CuZ”, which exists as CuZ*(4Cu1S) or CuZ(4Cu2S). The redox behaviour of these metal centres in Marinobacter hydrocarbonoclasticus nitrous oxide reductase was investigated by potentiometry and for the first time by direct electrochemistry. The reduction potential of CuA and CuZ(4Cu2S) was estimated by potentiometry to be +275 ± 5 mV and +65 ± 5 mV vs SHE, respectively, at pH 7.6. A proton-coupled electron transfer mechanism governs CuZ(4Cu2S) reduction potential, due to the protonation/deprotonation of Lys397 with a pKox of 6.0 ± 0.1 and a pKred of 9.2 ± 0.1. The reduction potential of CuA, in enzyme samples with CuZ*(4Cu1S), is controlled by protonation of the coordinating histidine residues in a two-proton coupled electron transfer process. In the cyclic voltammograms, two redox pairs were identified corresponding to CuA and CuZ(4Cu2S), with no additional signals being detected that could be attributed to CuZ*(4Cu1S). However, an enhanced cathodic signal for the activated enzyme was observed under turnover conditions, which is explained by the binding of nitrous oxide to CuZ0(4Cu1S), an intermediate species in the catalytic cycle.
- CuA centre
- CuZ centre
- Direct electrochemistry
- Nitrous oxide reductase
- Proton-coupled electron transfer