When 3,4-dihydroxybenzylcyanide (DBC) is oxidized by mushroom tyrosinase, the first visible product, identified as the corresponding quinomethane, exhibits an absorption maximum at 480 nm. Pulse-radiolysis experiments, in which the o-quinone is formed by disproportionation of semiquinone radicals generated by single-electron oxidation of DBC, showed that the quinomethane (A480 6440 M-1·cm-1) is formed through the intermediacy of the o-quinone with a rate constant at neutral pH of 7.5 s-1. The oxygen stoichiometry of the formation of the quinomethane by tyrosinase-catalysed oxidation of DBC was 0.5:1. On the basis of oxygen utilization rates the calculated Vmax was 4900 nmol·min-1 and the apparent Km was 374 µM. The corresponding monohydric phenol, 4-hydroxybenzylcyanide (HBC), was not oxidized by tyrosinase unless the enzyme was pre-exposed to DBC, the maximum acceleration of HBC oxidation being obtained by approximately equimolar addition of DBC. These results are consistent with tyrosinase auto-activation on the basis of the indirect formation of the dihydric phenol-activating cofactor. The rapid conversion of the o-quinone to the quinomethane prevents the formation of the catechol by reduction of the o-quinone product of monohydric phenol oxidation from occurring in the case of the compounds studied. In the absence of auto-activation, the kinetic parameters for HBC oxidation by tyrosinase were estimated as Vmax 70 nmol·min-1 and Km 309 µM. The quinomethane was found to decay with a rate constant of 2k 38 M-1·s-1, as determined both by pulse-radiolysis and tyrosinase experiments. The second-order kinetics indicate that a dimer is formed. In the presence of tyrosinase, but not in the pulse-radiolysis experiments, the quinomethane decay was accompanied by a steady-state oxygen uptake concurrently with the generation of a melanoid product measured by its A650, which is ascribed to the formation of an oligomer incorporating the oxidized dimer.
- The Biochemical Society, London © 1998