The Fet3 protein (Fet3p) is a multinuclear copper oxidase essential for high-affinity iron uptake in yeast. Fet3p contains one type 1, one type 2, and a strongly antiferromagnetically coupled binuclear Cu(II)-Cu(II) type 3 copper. The type 2 and type 3 sites constitute a structurally distinct trinuclear cluster at which dioxygen is reduced to water. In Fet3p, as in ceruloplasmin, Fe(II) is oxidized to Fe(III) at the type 1 copper; this is the ferroxidase reaction that is fundamental to the physiologic function of these two enzymes. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we have generated type 1- depleted (T1D), type 2-depleted (T2D), and T1D/T2D mutants. None were active in the essential ferroxidase reaction catalyzed by Fet3p. However, the spectroscopic signatures of the remaining Cu(II) sites in any one of the three mutants were indistinguishable from those exhibited by the wild type. Although the native protein and the T1D mutant were isolated in the completely oxidized Cu(II) form, the T2D and T1D/T2D mutants were found to be completely reduced. This result is consistent with the essential role of the type 2 copper in dioxygen turnover, and with the suggestions that cuprous ion is the valence state of intracellular copper. Although stable to dioxygen, the Cu(I) sites in both proteins were readily oxidized by hydrogen peroxide. The double mutant was extensively analyzed by X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Edge and near-edge features clearly distinguished the oxidized from the reduced form of the binuclear cluster. EXAFS was strongly consistent with the expected coordination of each type 3 copper by three histidine imidazoles. Also, copper scattering was observed in the oxidized cluster along with scattering from a ligand corresponding to a bridging oxygen. The data derived from the reduced cluster indicated that the bridge was absent in this redox state. In the reduced form of the double mutant, an N/O ligand was apparent that was not seen in the reduced form of the T1D protein. This ligand in T1D/T2D could be either the remaining type 2 copper imidazole ligand (from His416) or a water molecule that could be stabilized at the type 3 cluster by H-bonding to this side chain. If present in the native protein, this H2O could provide acid catalysis of dioxygen reduction at the reduced trinuclear center.
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