We have investigated the oxidation of the reduced ubiquinol: cytochrome c (bc1 complex) isolated from beef heart mitochondria. The oxidation of cytochrome c1 by both potassium ferricyanide and cytochrome c in the ascorbate-reduced bc1 complex is not a first-order process. This is taken as evidence that cytochrome c1 is in rapid equilibrium with the Rieske iron-sulphur center. Among the several inhibitors tested, only 5-n-undecyl-6-hydroxy-4,7-dioxobenzothiazole and stigmatellin are seen to affect this redox equilibrium between the high-potential centers of the beef heart bc1 complex.
The oxidation of cytochrome b by cytochrome c in both the succinate-reduced and the fully reduced bc1 complex is blocked by all the inhibitors tested. This inhibition occurs simultaneoulsy with an acceleration in the oxidation of cytochrome c1, even after extraction of the endogenous ubiquinone which is present in the bc1 preparation. Almost complete extraction of ubiquinone from the bc1 complex has no effect upon the rapid phase of cytochrome b oxidation, nor does it alter the inhibition of cytochrome b oxidation by the various inhibitors.
The oxidation of cytochrome b by exogenous ubiquinones is stimualted by myxothiazol and partially inhibited by antimycin. However, the addition of both these inhibitors together completely blocks the oxidation of cytochrome b by quinones. In contrast, the simultaneous addition of antimycin and myxothiazol has no such synergistic effect upon the oxidation of cytochrome b by cytochrome c.
Our data show that intramolecular electron transfer from cytochrome(s) b to the Rieske iron-sulphur center can take place in the bc1 complex without involvement of endogenous ubiquinone-10. This electron pathway is sensitive to all the inhibitors of the enzyme.