The oxidation of sulphite in animals systems.
In animals the terminal step in the pathway for degradation of sulphur-containing amino acids is the oxidation of sulphite to sulphate. This reaction is catalysed by the enzyme sulphite oxidase. The enzyme contains molybdenum and a cytochrome b5 type haem, is localized in the mitochondrial intermembrane space and transfers electrons from sulphite to cytochrome c on the inner membrane. The sulphite oxidase protein has a molecular weight of 110 000 (chicken) to 122 000 (human) and exists as a dimer of identical subunits. The haem and molybdenum cofactors are present on separate domains of the molecule. The structure of the molydbenum cofactor has not been worked out in detail, but this cofactor is known to be present in many other molybdoenzymes including xanthine oxidase and nitrate reductase. Three cases of genetic sulphite oxidase deficiency in humans have been reported. The three affected children displayed mental retardation, neurological abnormalities and dislocated ocular lenses. The biochemical basis for lack of enzyme activity in each case has been studied. All three have been shown to lack the sulphite oxidase protein, but in one case this appears to be secondary to a defect in synthesis of the molybdenum cofactor. Sulphite oxidase deficiency has been produced in the rat by administration of high levels of tungsten. Sulphite oxidase-deficient animals are particularly susceptible to the toxic effects of sulphite and atmospheric sulphur dioxide.
Johnson, JL; Rajagopalan, KV
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