Bovine heart cytochrome c oxidase (CcO) was inactivated by the lipid peroxidation product 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE) in a time- and concentration-dependent manner with pseudo-first-order kinetics. Cytochrome c oxidase electron transport activity decreased by as much as 50% when the enzyme was incubated for 2 h at room temperature with excess HNE (300-500 μM). HNE-modified CcO subunits were identified by two mass spectrometric methods: electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI/ MS) and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF/MS). All of the experimentally determined molecular masses were in excellent agreement with published sequence values with an accuracy of ∼1 part per 10000 mass units for subunits smaller than 20 kDa and ∼1 part per 1000 mass units for the three subunits larger than 20 kDa. Both MS methods detected six CcO subunits with an increased mass of 156 Da after reaction with HNE (subunits II, IV, Vb, VIIa, VIIc, and VIII); this result indicates a single Michael-type reaction site on either a lysine or histidine residue within each subunit. Reaction of HNE with either subunit VIIc or subunit VIII (modified ∼30% and 50-75%, respectively) must be responsible for CcO inhibition. None of the other subunits were modified more than 5% and could not account for the observed loss of activity. Reaction of HNE with His-36 of subunit VIII is most consistent with the ∼50% inhibition of CcO: (1) subunit VIII is modified more than any other subunit by HNE; (2) the time dependence of subunit VIII modification is consistent with the percent inhibition of CcO; (3) His-36 was identified as the HNE-modified amino acid residue within subunit VIII by tandem MS analysis.
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