Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Towards the mechanism of cell respiration

06.04.2006
Researchers at the Institute of Biotechnology of the University of Helsinki have for the first time identified an internal electron transfer reaction that initiates the proton pump mechanism of the respiratory enzyme. These new results are published in the Thursday (April 6th) issue of Nature.

The functions of the lungs, the blood circulation, and the red blood cells in respiration are only an overture to the physicochemical reaction in the cells where oxygen is reduced to water. Oxygen consumption in cell respiration is a strictly controlled enzymatic reaction in the inner mitochondrial membrane. The respiratory enzyme cytochrome oxidase functions as a proton pump that transduces free energy from oxygen reduction to an electrochemical proton gradient, which is utilised by another enzyme to produce ATP, the cells’ general energy currency.

The results by the research group of academy professor Mårten Wikström revealed the coupling between the function of the proton pump and oxygen reduction: an internal electron transfer initiates the first stage of the pump mechanism. "This finding opens the door towards understanding the mechanism, which has been the subject of research for almost 30 years", Wikström says.

The proton pump of cytochrome oxidase is closely linked to the process by which the energy of foodstuffs is transduced into a useful energy source for our cells. Another enzyme makes use of the proton gradient generated by the pump, synthesising adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that powers energy-requiring functions such as muscle contraction and nerve impulses. The central biological importance of this system is evident, for example from the almost immediate death that follows from blocking cell respiration, e.g. by cyanide.

Cytochrome oxidase functions as an energy transducer in much the same way as a fuel cell. It is a biological "nanomachine" that has evolved over billions of years, and has an efficiency better than 90%.

Wikström and his colleagues study both the chemical reaction and the proton pump of cytochrome oxidase by biophysical techniques with a time resolution less than one microsecond. In this way it has been possible to monitor the enzyme’s functions in real time. It takes about one millisecond for the respiratory enzyme to reduce one oxygen molecule to water. This time includes all the partial reactions, and also the efficient energy-transducing mechanism.

The research was supported by grants from the Sigrid Juse´lius Foundation, Biocentrum Helsinki and the Academy of Finland.

Mårten Wikström | alfa
Further information:
http://www.helsinki.fi/university/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>