Electron transfer across the O2- generating flavocytochrome b of neutrophils. Evidence for a transition from a low-spin state to a high-spin state of the heme iron component.

PMID 8873608


The NADPH oxidase complex of activated neutrophils consists of a membrane-bound flavocytochrome b and cytosolic activation factors. Despite its ability to react with O2, the heme b component of the flavocytochrome is insensitive to cyanide and CO2, and slowly reactive to butyl isocyanide. We report here that arachidonic acid, an anionic amphophil which elicits oxidase activation in a cell-free system induces a transition of the heme iron of the neutrophil flavocytochrome b from a low-spin hexacoordinated state to a high-spin pentacoordinated state and promotes the binding of butyl isocyanide to the heme b. Low-temperature EPR spectra of air-oxidized flavocytochrome b either purified or in its membrane-bound form showed a low-spin signal at g = 3.26 and a high-spin signal at g = 6.0. Upon addition of arachidonic acid, the g = 3.26 signal vanished; a low-spin signal at g = 2.23 appeared, and the signal at g = 6.0 progressively increased. The subsequent addition of butyl isocyanide resulted in the decrease of the g = 6.0 and g = 2.23 signals and in the appearance of a new low-spin signal at g = 2.33. Consistent with the EPR results, upon addition of arachidonic acid to oxidized flavocytochrome b, a 2.5 nm blue shift of the Soret peak was detected in low-temperature optical spectra. The subsequent addition of butyl isocyanide resulted in the emergence of a peak at 432 nm reflecting the formation of a butyl isocyanide-oxidized heme b complex. In the case of sodium dithionite-reduced flavocytochrome b, arachidonic acid promoted the binding of butyl isocyanide to the reduced heme b, as shown by the emergence of a peak at 434 nm and the decrease of the alpha band at 558 nm. The same promoting effect was encountered with sodium dodecyl sulfate, an anionic amphophil capable of eliciting oxidase activation like arachidonic acid. In contrast to arachidonic acid, arachidonic acid methyl ester was ineffective and counteracted the effect of arachidonic acid. Butyl isocyanide added to intact neutrophils was found to bind to heme b, only after the cells have been activated. These data demonstrate the transient accumulation of a pentacoordinated form of the heme iron of flavocytochrome b under in vitro and in vivo conditions; the pentacoordinated form of the reduced heme b is postulated to react with O2 to generate the superoxide anion.

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Butyl isocyanide, 97%