Biochemistry, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry 289 (2014), pp. 29836-29858; doi: 10.1074/jbc.M114.582783


Copyright © 2014 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc. Used by permission.


Heme oxygenase (HO) catalyzes the rate-limiting step in the O2- dependent degradation of heme to biliverdin, CO, and iron with electrons delivered from NADPH via cytochrome P450 reductase (CPR). Biliverdin reductase (BVR) then catalyzes conversion of bili­verdin to bilirubin. We describe mutagenesis combined with kinetic, spectroscopic (fluorescence and NMR), surface plasmon resonance, cross-linking, gel filtration, and analytical ultracentrifugation studies aimed at evaluating interactions of HO-2 with CPR and BVR. Based on these results, we propose a model in which HO-2 and CPR form a dynamic ensemble of complex(es) that precede formation of the productive electron transfer complex. The 1H-15N TROSY NMR spectrum of HO-2 reveals specific residues, including Leu-201, near the heme face of HO-2 that are affected by the addition of CPR, im­plicating these residues at the HO/CPR interface. Alanine substitu­tions at HO-2 residues Leu-201 and Lys-169 cause a respective 3- and 22-fold increase in Km values for CPR, consistent with a role for these residues in CPR binding. Sedimentation velocity experiments confirm the transient nature of the HO-2·CPR complex (Kd = 15.1 μm). Our results also indicate that HO-2 and BVR form a very weak complex that is only captured by cross-linking. For example, under conditions where CPR affects the 1H-15N TROSY NMR spectrum of HO-2, BVR has no effect. Fluorescence quenching experiments also suggest that BVR binds HO-2 weakly, if at all, and that the previously reported high affinity of BVR for HO is artifactual, resulting from the effects of free heme (dissociated from HO) on BVR fluorescence

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