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The structure of the type I tetraheme cytochrome c3 from Desulfovibrio desulfuricans G20 was determined to 1.5 A˚ by X-ray crystallography. In addition to the oxidized form, the structure of the molybdate-bound form of the protein was determined from oxidized crystals soaked in sodium molybdate. Only small structural shifts were obtained with metal binding, consistent with the remarkable structural stability of this protein. In vitro experiments with pure cytochrome showed that molybdate could oxidize the reduced cytochrome, although not as rapidly as U(VI) present as uranyl acetate. Alterations in the overall conformation and thermostability of the metal-oxidized protein were investigated by circular dichroism studies. Again, only small changes in protein structure were documented. The location of the molybdate ion near heme IV in the crystal structure suggested heme IV as the site of electron exit from the reduced cytochrome and implicated Lys14 and Lys56 in binding. Analysis of structurally conserved water molecules in type I cytochrome c3 crystal structures identified interactions predicted to be important for protein stability and possibly for intramolecular electron transfer among heme molecules

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Journal of Molecular Biology

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