Sco-like proteins contain copper bound by two cysteines and a histidine residue. Although their function is still incompletely understood, there is a clear involvement with the assembly of cytochrome oxidases that contain the CuA center in subunit 2, possibly mediating the transfer of copper into the CuA binuclear site. We are investigating the reaction chemistry of BSco, the homologue from Bacillus subtilis. Our studies have revealed that BSco behaves more like a redox protein than a metallochaperone. The essential H135 residue that coordinates copper plays a role in stabilizing the Cu(II) rather than the Cu(I) form.When H135 is mutated to alanine, the oxidation rate of both hydrogen peroxide and one-electron outer-sphere reductants increases by 3 orders of magnitude, suggestive of a redox switch mechanism between the His-on and His-off conformational states of the protein. Imidazole binds to the H135A protein, restoring the N superhyperfine coupling in the EPR, but is unable to rescue the redox properties of wild-type Sco. These findings reveal a unique role for H135 in Sco function. We propose a hypothesis that electron transfer from Sco to the maturing oxidase may be essential for proper maturation and/or protection from oxidative damage during the assembly process. The findings also suggest that interaction of Sco with its protein partner(s) may perturb the Cu(II)-H135 interaction and thus induce a sensitive redox activity to the protein.
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