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Keywords:

  • acriflavine;
  • catalase;
  • enzymatic activity;
  • inhibition;
  • structural alteration;
  • spectrophotometry;
  • fluorescence;
  • circular dichroism

Acriflavine is an antiseptic agent causing both apoptosis and necrosis in yeast. In this work, its effect on the structure and function of catalase, a vital enzyme actively involved in protection against oxidative stress, was investigated. In vitro kinetic studies showed that acriflavine inhibited the enzymatic activity in a competitive manner. The residual activity detectable after preincubation of catalase (1.5 nmol/L) with various concentrations of acriflavine went from 50% to 20% of the control value as the acriflavine concentration increased from 30 to 90 μmol/L. Correlatively with the decrease in activity, alterations in the enzyme's conformation were observed as indicated by fluorescence spectroscopy, circular dichroism spectroscopy, and electronic absorption spectroscopy. The enzyme's intrinsic fluorescence obtained upon excitation at either 297 nm (tryptophan residues) or 280 nm (tyrosine and tryptophan residues) decreased as a function of acriflavine concentration. Circular dichroism studies showed alterations of the protein structure by acriflavine with up to 13% decrease in α helix, 16% increase in β-sheet content, 17% increase in random coil, and 4% increase in β turns. Spectrophotometric studies showed a blueshift and modifications in the chromicity of catalase at 405 nm, corresponding to an absorbance band due to the enzyme's prosthetic group. Thus, acriflavine induced in vitro a profound change in the structure of catalase so that the enzyme could no longer function. Our results showed that acriflavine, a compound producing apoptosis and necrosis, can have a direct effect on vital functions in cells by disabling key enzymes.