Bactericidal agents generated by the peroxidase-catalyzed oxidation of para-hydroquinones.
For the three Gram-negative bacteria, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Escherichia coli, and Erwinia amylovora, p-benzoquinone was the principal bactericidal agent formed in vitro during the oxidation of hydroquinone by horseradish peroxidase, whereas no toxicity could be associated with either phenolic or oxygen-free radicals. Even the continuous generation of p-benzosemiquinone during the simultaneous reduction of p-benzoquinone by xanthine oxidase and reoxidation of hydroquinone by peroxidase was no more toxic than p-benzoquinone alone. Anaerobiosis had no effect on the toxicity of either p-benzoquinone or the peroxidase reaction and the generation of superoxide and hydroxyl radicals catalyzed by xanthine oxidase was not bactericidal. Substitutions on the p-benzoquinone ring decreased quinone toxicity in rough proportion to the decrease in quinone redox potential, suggesting that strong oxidizing potentials are important for such quinone toxicity.
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