Cu(I)-dependent biogenesis of the galactose oxidase redox cofactor

Mei M. Whittaker, James W. Whittaker

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78 Scopus citations


Galactose oxidase is a copper metalloenzyme containing a novel protein-derived redox cofactor in its active site, formed by cross-linking two residues, Cys228 and Tyr272. Previous studies have shown that formation of the tyrosyl-cysteine (Tyr-Cys) cofactor is a self-processing step requiring only copper and dioxygen. We have investigated the biogenesis of cofactor-containing galactose oxidase from pregalactose oxidase lacking the Tyr-Cys cross-link but having a fully processed N-terminal sequence, using both Cu(I) and Cu(II). Mature galactose oxidase forms rapidly following exposure of a pregalactose oxidase-Cu(I) complex to dioxygen (t1/2 = 3.9 s at pH 7). In contrast, when Cu(II) is used in place of Cu(I) the maturation process requires several hours (t1/2 = 5.1 h). EDTA prevents reaction of pregalactose oxidase with Cu(II) but does not interfere with the Cu(I)-dependent biogenesis reaction. The yield of cross-link corresponds to the amount of copper added, although a fraction of the pregalactose oxidase protein is unable to undergo this cross-linking reaction. The latter component, which may have an altered conformation, does not interfere with analysis of cofactor biogenesis at low copper loading. The biogenesis product has been quantitatively characterized, and mechanistic studies have been developed for the Cu(I)-dependent reaction, which forms oxidized, mature galactose oxidase and requires two molecules of O2. Transient kinetics studies of the biogenesis reaction have revealed a pH sensitivity that appears to reflect ionization of a protein group (pKa = 7.3) at intermediate pH resulting in a rate acceleration and protonation of an early oxygenated intermediate at lower pH competing with commitment to cofactor formation. These spectroscopic, kinetic, and biochemical results lead to new insights into the biogenesis mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22090-22101
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 13 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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