Reactive oxygen species (ROS), when in excess, are among the most deleterious species an organism can deal with. The physiological effects of ROS include amino acid chain cleavage, DNA degradation and lipid oxidation, among others. They can be formed in the cytoplasm in a variety of ways, including autooxidation reactions (FMN- and FAD-containing enzymes) and Fenton reactions as a result of the cytoplasmatic pool of iron ions. The superoxide anion (O 2.-), despite its short half-life in solution, is particularly pernicious as it can form other reactive ROS (such as the strong oxidant peroxynitrite) or oxidize and/or reduce cellular components. For strict anaerobic or microaerophilic bacteria it is of particular importance to be able to dispose of ROS in a controlled manner, especially if these organisms are temporarily exposed to air. This review aims to describe the structural characteristics of superoxide reductases (SORs) and mechanistic aspects of biological superoxide anion reduction. SORs can be considered the main class of enzymes behind the oxygen detoxification pathway of anaerobic and microaerophilic bacteria. The geometry of the active site (three classes have been described), the possible electron donors in vivo and the current hypothesis for the catalytic mechanism will be discussed. Some phylogenetic considerations are presented, regarding the primary structure of SORs currently available in genome databases.
- Bioinorganic chemistry
- Nonheme iron centres
- Structure-activity relationships