The aerobic respiratory chain of the thermohalophilic bacterium Rhodothermus marinus has been extensively studied. In this study the isolation and characterization of a third oxygen reductase expressed in this organism are described. This newly isolated enzyme is a typical member of the type B family of haem-copper oxygen reductases, showing 43% amino acid sequence identity and 63% similarity with the ba3 oxygen reductase from Thermus thermophilus. It constitutes two subunits with apparent molecular masses of 42 and 38 kDa. It contains a low-spin B-type haem and a high-spin A-type haem. A stoichiometry of 1B: 1A haem per protein was obtained by spectral integration of UV-visible spectra. Metal analysis showed the presence of two iron and three copper ions, which is in agreement with the existence of a CuA center.
Taking advantage of having two spectroscopically distinct haems, the redox behavior of the ba3 oxygen reductase was analyzed and discussed in the framework of a model with interacting centers. Both haems, B and A, present two transitions, have unusually low reduction potentials of −65 mV and an interaction potential of −52.5 mV.