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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A time-resolved fluorescence study of human copper-zinc superoxide dismutase

  • Author(s): Rosato, N
  • Mei, G
  • Gratton, E
  • Bannister, JV
  • Bannister, WH
  • Finazzi-Agrò, A
  • et al.

The intrinsic fluorescence decay of human Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase was measured by frequency-domain techniques. The protein consists of two subunits, each containing one tryptophan and no tyrosine residues. Using a synchrotron radiation source, which allows facile selection of the excitation wavelength, the dependence of the emission decay upon excitation was studied. No significant excitation wavelength effects were found. The two tryptophans contained in the dimer, although fully equivalent and exposed to solvent, showed a fluorescence decay that cannot be described by a single lifetime. Either two lifetimes, or one Lorentzian-shaped continuous distribution of lifetimes, are needed to obtain a good fit. Under identical experimental conditions, control experiments showed that N-acetyltryptophanamide, an analogue of tryptophanyl residues in proteins, decays with a single lifetime. The heterogeneous decay of tryptophan fluorescence in superoxide dismutase is interpreted as due to the presence of static and/or dynamic conformers in the protein that decay with different lifetimes. The two models of discrete lifetimes and continuous distribution of lifetimes are discussed with reference to measurements on holo- and apo-human superoxide dismutase. © 1990.

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