The characterization and role of zinc binding in yeast Cox4

H. Jerome Coyne, Simone Ciofi-Baffoni, Lucia Banci, Ivano Bertini, Limei Zhang, Graham N. George, Dennis R. Winge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Yeast Cox4 is a zinc binding subunit of cytochrome c oxidase. Cox4 is the only cofactor-containing subunit that is not directly part of the catalytic core of the enzyme located in the mitochondrial inner membrane. The Zn(II) site is shown to be distinct from the bovine ortholog, as it results from the x-ray structure of the entire cytochrome c oxidase in having a single histidyl residue and three conserved cysteines residues in the coordination sphere. Substitutions at the Cys ligand positions result in nonfunctional Cox4 proteins that fail to lead to cytochrome oxidase assembly. Limited function exists in His-119 mutants when overexpressed. Zn(II) binding in Cox4 is, therefore, important for the stability of the complex. The solution structure of yeast Cox4 elucidated by multidimensional NMR reveals a C-terminal globular domain consisting of two β sheets analogous to the bovine ortholog except the loop containing the coordinating His in the yeast protein and the fourth Cys in the bovine protein are in different positions in the two structures. The conformation of this loop is dictated by the different sequence position of the fourth coordinating zinc ligand. The Zn(II) ion is buried within the domain, consistent with its role in structural stability. Potential functions of this matrix-facing subunit are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8926-8934
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 23 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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